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Australian Open quarterfinal preview: Petra Kvitova vs. Sara Errani

We already have one Australian Open semifinal set – Victoria Azarenka vs. Kim Clijsters – and our stats lover Omair has looked back on their quarterfinal matches. Let's now see what the numbers and Omair are telling us for the upcoming quarterfinal between Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani.

Who would have thought after Kvitova's run to the quarterfinals of the Aussie Open last year that she would be here again next year fighting for her second Grand Slam and the top spot in women's tennis. At least I was not the one, though I was impressed by her game and I rooted for her when she took the court.

Kvitova has shown us so far that she can have bad patches during her matches, but what has been more important is that she can overcome them and storm back to win. After all that is what she did in her second round match against Carla Suarez Navarro, when she was down a break in the third set and she came back to win the match. Almost similar thing happended to her against Ana Ivanovic in her fourth rounder, when she failed to serve out the match in the second set but regrouped to win it in the tiebreak.

Kvitova enters the quarterfinal as a favorite, even though Kvitova and Errani have never played against each other. Errani's best Grand Slam result before this was a third round showing here at the Australian Open in 2009 and 2010, US Open 2009 and 2010 and Wimbledon in 2010, but she had never progressed beyond the third round of a Grand Slam. Now here she is in the quarterfinals of the Aussie Open, the Grand Slam where she first achieved her best Grand Slam showing in 2009.

Errani enters the match with nothing to lose. I had picked Zheng Jie to win the fourth round match against Errani, based on Zheng's experience and her affinity with the Aussie Open, but Errani came out on top.

The quarterfinal will be a wonderful experience for Errani, but Kvitova's firepower will be more than what Errani can handle. Both Errani and Kvitova have lost one set en route to the final eight. Let us see what the numbers tell us.

One thing where Errani leads Kvitova is the break point conversion: Errani has converted 63% of her break points, while Kvitova has been able to convert only 48%. Errani has been serving at a good 73% first serve and winning 63% of those first serves, while Kvitova has been serving at 64% first serves and winning 72% of those.

Kvitova should be through to the semifinals in two sets. Do you think that Errani will be able to beat Kvitova and end her dream of being world No. 1 or will Kvitova march on and stay in the hunt of the No. 1 ranking?

With Caroline Woznicki out, the top spot is up for grabs, and we have three contenders, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka. Kvitova is 205 points ahead of Azarenka and must remain one step ahead of Azarenka to have a shot at the top spot. Sharapova has to reach the finals at least to have a shot at the top spot, and win the whole thing if Kvitova makes it to the semifinals. Who do you think will make it to the top spot? (photos: © Neal Trousdale)

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