Wimbledon 2011: Petra Kvitova beats Victoria Azarenka

By Piers Newbery BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova produced a blistering display to beat Victoria Azarenka and reach her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon.

The 21-year-old left-hander, who lost to Serena Williams in the semi-finals last year, reeled off the winners as she came through 6-1 3-6 6-2.

Belarusian Azarenka, seeded fourth, was making her Grand Slam semi-final debut but could not contain Kvitova.

The Czech will play Russian fifth seed Maria Sharapova in Saturday's final.

Kvitova, who beat Azarenka in the third round at Wimbledon last year, is known for her shot-making ability and she made a blistering start on Centre Court, making 13 winners and breaking twice as the first set flew by in 27 minutes.

The power and depth of the Czech's groundstrokes, and her ability to hit clean winners off both sides, left Azarenka reeling, but for all her her talent Kvitova remains inconsistent and her level dropped at the start of the second set.

After making only three unforced errors in the first, the mistakes began to creep in and Azarenka finally got a foothold in her opponent's service games.

Azarenka, 21, won the first six points to take control of the second set and would not relinquish that lead, pummelling her way to the set with a succession of backhands in game nine.

The Belarusian was the one playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final but the world number five has been a contender at the top level for some time now, and might have been expected to hold her nerve better in the decider.

It was her misfortune that the Kvitova of the early stages began to resurface with a love hold to open the set, before Azarenka buckled under more huge hitting to drop serve.

Kvitova had won the second set of their third-round clash 6-0 last year and she was on course for something similar at 3-0, but Azarenka slowed the Czech express in game five, only to miss two break-back points.

It was still a huge task for Kvitova to close it as she tried to become only the fourth Czech woman to reach the Wimbledon final after Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova and Jana Novotna, but she held her nerve as Azarenka's cracked.

With Navratilova watching from the Royal Box, Kvitova worked her way to two match points at 5-2 and was thankful to see Azarenka double-fault on the second.

"I can't say anything, I'm so happy," Kvitova told BBC Sport.

"I started very well, and it was all about the serves in both sets, so I'm very happy with mine in the third. I'm not thinking about the final too much yet."

Top Stories