|Strikingly similar: Kvitova (L) shakes hands with Azarenka (R) after winning their semi-final [GALLO/GETTY]
It was all about the serves at Wimbledon on Thursday, and it was Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova who survived the ups and downs on Centre Court to reach the final.
The fifth-seeded Sharapova overcame 13 double-faults to beat Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-3.
Kvitova reached her first major final by hitting nine aces in a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 win over Victoria Azarenka.
Sharapova had two double-faults in her opening service game, the second to get broken. She had two more while trailing 3-0, but saved a break point and then won 12 of the final 16 games.
"She played really well and I did quite the opposite," Sharapova said.
"It was tough. I just had to stay focused. I got back on track and just remained really focused throughout the rest of the match."
Even though Sharapova's serve was poor during the match, her game once the ball was in play was brilliant, sending forehands and backhands into the corners and passing her outmatched opponent.
"She played really well and I did quite the opposite"
Wimbledon finalist Maria Sharapova
Lisicki also got frustrated early in the second set as a light drizzle started to rain down on Centre Court.
The trailing Lisicki asked chair umpire Louise Engzell to suspend play, but was denied.
Sharapova was soon 3-0 up and Lisicki's chances of reaching a first grand slam final were fading fast.
Sharapova, who has not lost a set at this year's tournament, had 18 unforced errors and only 14 winners. Lisicki did exactly the opposite, with 18 winners and 14 unforced errors.
However, it wasn't all bad news for Lisicki on Thursday as she made the doubles semi-finals with her partner Samantha Stosur following their 7-5, 1-6, 6-1 defeat of Nadia Petrova and Anastasia Rodionova.
Sharapova will face eighth-seed Petra Kvitova in the final after the Czech reached her first grand slam final with victory over Victoria Azarenka.
Kvitova showed the greater will, ambition and control of her nerves to overcome fourth-seed Azarenka in a topsy-turvy semi-final at Wimbledon.
The Czech, also a semi-finalist last year, dominated the first set but then lost her way as the Belarussian took the second in her first grand slam last four appearance after four previous quarter-final defeats.
|Kvitova faces a tough task to overcome an in-form Sharapova [GALLO/GETTY]
Kvitova, however, continued to go for her shots and came back strongly to take the third and become the first left hander to make the Wimbledon women's final since Martina Navratilova, present at Thursday's match, in 1994.
"I can't say anything, I'm so happy," said Kvitova.
"I started really well, all match it was about serve so I was happy mine went well in the third set."
It was a tense encounter with the crowd struggling to lift themselves but they had a moment of light relief when Azarenka, assailing their eardrums with her trademark screech, complained to the umpire about noise from a nearby errant alarm.
If Sharapova can defeat Kvitova in the final it will be her second Wimbledon title, a title that comes seven years after her first win at the tender age of 17 in 2004.