Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova advance

Updated: January 25, 2012, 9:11 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Former and reigning Wimbledon winners Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova will meet in the Australian Open semifinals after both won in straight sets on Wednesday.

Sharapova won 6-2, 6-3 against fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who knocked out five-time champion Serena Williams in the previous round.

Kvitova earlier reached the semifinals at Melbourne Park for the first time with a 6-4, 6-4 win over unseeded Italian Sara Errani.

Kvitova beat Sharapova in last year's Wimbledon final to claim her first Grand Slam title.

"Obviously it was a tough one at Wimbledon," Sharapova said. "She's full of confidence and playing the best tennis right now. I look forward to it."

Sharapova and Kvitova also kept alive their chances of claiming the top ranking, which Caroline Wozniacki will vacate on Monday after her quarterfinal loss to Kim Clijsters.

The fourth-seeded Sharapova must repeat her 2008 Australian title win. Kvitova only has to match or better the run of Victoria Azarenka, the only other player still in the running this week for the No. 1 spot.

Sharapova has dropped one set and lost 21 games en route to her first Australian Open semifinal since she won the 2008 final -- the last of her three major titles.

"It's been a long road back to this stage," said Sharapova, who spent 10 months off court with a shoulder injury that required surgery later in 2008.

Kvitova was far from her best against an opponent making her debut in a Grand Slam quarterfinal, and with a 0-24 record against top-10 players. The second-seeded Czech made 44 errors and had to come back from a break down in the second set.

"I was a little nervous because I knew that everybody expect it will be easy match," Kvitova said. "Probably I had in my head that it's a good draw."

The other women's semifinal will feature defending champion Clijsters against third-seeded Azarenka. Clijsters advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Wozniacki, who remains without a major title. Azarenka rallied for a 6-7 (0), 6-0, 6-2 win over eighth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.