Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova joined Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka in the final four of the 2012 Australian Open. Like Azarenka, Masha and Petra are playing for both a spot in the Australian Open final and a chance to ascend to the world #1 ranking, relinquished by Caroline Wozniacki with her loss to Clijsters in the quarterfinals. Masha was in total control against Ekaterina Makarova, winning 6-2 6-3. Coming off her upset of Serena Williams, Makarova did not get the truckload of free points on errors from Masha that she did from Serena. Still, Ekaterina is a player to keep an eye on this year. She has a lot of potential.
Masha will have her hands full in the semifinals with Petra Kvitova, a winner over Sara Errani, 6-4 6-4. This is a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon final, won in straight sets by Petra. Sharapova must serve reasonably well to win. If she has service yips in this match, Petra will beat her again. However, if Masha is focused and playing well Petra must avoid those mental lapses that still creep into her game during matches or Sharapova will win. It’s a tough one to call. Petra at her best is probably a step better than Masha at this moment. But Masha looks so hungry to win another Major, it’s tough to pick against her.