Sharapova sets up Azarenka showdown in Stuttgart

ESPN staff
April 28, 2012
Maria Sharapova is looking for her first title of 2012 © PA Photos

Maria Sharapova claimed a narrow victory over Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to book her place in the final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

The world No. 2 will have the chance to avenge her Australian Open final defeat to Victoria Azarenka with the world's top two players set to do battle in Sunday's final.

Sharapova has fallen at the final hurdle in three finals this season as she looks to claim her first title of 2012 on her debut in Germany.

The Russian broke her opponent for a 3-2 lead as she took control of the opening set. A late break of serve looked to be enough to secure victory, but as Sharapova served for the match, Kvitova saved match point before breaking back to force a tiebreak.

She was comprehensively outplayed by the Czech during last year's Wimbledon final, but Sharapova held her nerve to seal a 6-4 7-6(3) victory.

It was the first time since July 2009 that the four top seeds had reached the last four of a WTA Tour event, and the semi-finals went with rank as top seed Azarenka cruised past Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets.

Azarenka, who began the year with a 26-match unbeaten streak, is on course for her fifth title of the year after claiming her fourth win of the year against the fourth-seeded Pole.

Meanwhile at the Grand Prix de Sar La Princess Lalla Meryem in Morocco, Kiki Bertens capped a superb week as she claimed her maiden WTA Tour victory.

Bertens had previously played just one WTA Tour level match, losing in the first round of her home event at 's-Hertogenbosch. But the world No. 149 came through qualifying before claiming shock wins over Urszula Radwanska and Simona Halep en route to the final, where she beat Laura Pous-Tio 7-5 6-0 to lift her first trophy.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.