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Maria Sharapova, Kvitova reach Wimbledon final

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CHRIS LEHOURITES
June 30, 2011
— Maria Sharapova overcame a poor serve Thursday to reach her second Wimbledon final, where she will meet Petra Kvitova.

The fifth-seeded Russian beat Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-3 despite 13 double-faults. Earlier, Kvitova defeated fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.


Both winners struggled on Centre Court. Sharapova trailed 3-0 in the first set, but then won 12 of the final 16 games to advance.


Kvitova easily won the first set but had trouble in the second before recovering to reach her first Grand Slam final.


THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.


WIMBLEDON, England (AP) Petra Kvitova rode her big serve right into the Wimbledon final, defeating Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 Thursday.


Kvitova hit nine aces, including three in a row in the final game of the first set, to reach her first Grand Slam final. She will face either Maria Sharapova or Sabine Lisicki for the title on Saturday.


"All match it was around both serves, so I'm very happy my serve was good in the third set," said Kvitova, who had never won a match on grass before last year's tournament, when she reached the semifinals. "Grass is my favorite surface."


Kvitova was playing in only her second major semifinal, and she dictated the play throughout the match. The Czech left-hander had 40 winners and 14 unforced errors, while Azarenka had only nine winners and seven unforced errors.


And it was Azarenka's serve that finished it when the fourth-seeded Belarusian committed her second double-fault of the day on match point.


In the first set, Kvitova twice broke Azarenka's serve and saved the only break point she faced. She finished the set with six aces.


But Azarenka responded in the second, finally converting a break point in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. She held the rest of the way and evened the match, but couldn't do much about her opponent's serve.


Kvitova lost only one point in the opening game of the third set, and then broke for a 2-0 lead. At 3-1, Azarenka had two break points, but Kvitova saved them both and won the next two points to make it 4-1.


Kvitova is the first left-handed player to reach the Wimbledon final since Martina Navratilova in 1994. Navratilova, who won the title nine times and was in the crowd on Thursday, and Ann Jones (in 1969) are the only ones to win the championship dish at the All England Club.


"We met in the locker room and she's told me well done and good luck for the next match," Kvitova said of Navratilova. "It's very nice when I can meet her and speak with her."


The last lefty to even reach a women's final was Monica Seles at the 1998 French Open.



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