- Associated Press - Thursday, January 26, 2012

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Petra Kvitova was disappointed to fall short against the more experienced Maria Sharapova in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

However, after her breakthrough season in 2011, the 21-year-old Czech put the 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 loss in perspective.

“Yes, of course I’m disappointed right now,” Kvitova said Thursday. “If I look back, I don’t know, in a week, for example, it will be a good tournament for me, first semifinal in the Australian Open. So, I mean, now I’m really sad, but in the next days it will be fine.”

The big-hitting Czech has quickly established herself as one of the game’s elite players and a legitimate contender for major titles.

Consider where Kvitova had been a year ago: She came into the 2011 Australian Open seeded No. 25 and went out meekly to then-No. 2 Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals.

She won two tournaments before her remarkable run at Wimbledon, where she defeated Sharapova in the final for her first Grand Slam title. She capped off the year by winning the WTA Championships and rising to No. 2 in the rankings.

Kvitova could have gone all the way to No. 1 this week had she won in Melbourne.

She defeated Sharapova 6-3, 6-4 at the 2011 Wimbledon final in their first meeting.

“Probably, I play more aggressive in the Wimbledon and didn’t have a lot of mistakes,” she said. “It was fine match for the people, hopefully. I’m looking forward for the next matches.”


INSTANT CHEMISTRY: Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva may want to make their doubles partnership a permanent one.

The Russians are playing together for only the sixth time _ and the first time since last year’s French Open _ but they’ve made it all the way to the Australian Open final. On Friday, they’ll face the Italian duo of Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani on Friday.

Both Kuznetsova and Zvonareva are better known for their singles play _ they each reached career-high No. 2 _ but they’re not exactly strangers to the doubles circuit.

Kuznetsova has 14 doubles titles and won the 2005 Australian Open with Alicia Molik, and Zvonareva has five titles and captured the 2006 U.S. Open with Nathalie Dechy.

They’re the first unseeded pair in the Australian Open women’s doubles final since Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko won in 2008.

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