Omair, our favorite and most productive guest poster this Australian Open, is not slowing down and now he followed up his pre-match analysis of the semifinal between Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova with a post-match review of Sharapova's 6-2 3-6 6-4 victory.
Both Kvitova and Sharapova took the Rod Laver Arena today knowing that they both had a lot on the line: the No.1 ranking and a spot in the championship match. Kvitova had an edge coming into the match, for it was Kvitova who beat Sharapova on Center Court at Wimbledon in the title match last year in straight sets. Sharapova had revenge on her mind, and revenge was what she got at the end, along with a chance to grab the top spot and a chance to earn her second Australian Open trophy and fourth Grand Slam title.
Sharapova started the match on fire, walking away with the first set 6-2, and it seemed that Kvitova would bow out in straight sets. But we have seen that Kvitova is a fighter and she comes back to win matches. It was Kvitova's turn to show why she is world No.2 as she took the second set to send the match to a decisive third set. Again, it was Kvitova who looked sharper and on a roll, but Sharapova hung in there long enough to let the nerves get the better of Kvitova. Kvitova had a lot of chances to move ahead in the third set, but she just could not capitalise on them. In the end nerves got the better of Kvitova as her forehand sailed long to hand Sharapova the game, set and match. Both played some jaw-dropping tennis throughout the match.
Let's see what the numbers tell us about this match:
The two were equal in almost every department, and it is a shame that one had to lose. However, where Kvitova lost the match and where Sharapova won it was the break point conversion rate: Sharapova converted all five of her break points, while Kvitova could capitalise on only three of the 14 chances she got.
Sharapova silenced her critics with her performance today, and she showed what a true fighter she is and how she fights back and never gives up. It was her never-giving-up attitude that made her hang in the third set and ultimately win it.
Kvitova is only 21, and still learning and promises to be a major force in the years to come, Sharapova, 24, has shown us today that she is back from her shoulder injury completely and that she can compete at the top level again.
Sharapova has now reached the second Grand Slam final of the last three majors she has played, the other being Wimbledon last year. With Victoria Azarenka, the other Australian Open 2012 finalist, also in red hot form, this promises to be a great year if these players can keep this form going on for the whole year. We might be seeing the top players moving down deep into the draws more often this year. What a great start to a great year. (photos: © Neal Trousdale)