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Aaron Favila, Associated Press
Russia's Maria Sharapova watches her forehand return to Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Maria Sharapova has advanced to the Australian Open final and given herself a chance to regain the No. 1 ranking, beating Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 on Thursday.

Sharapova, the 2008 Australian Open champion, can take the No. 1 ranking if she beats Victoria Azarenka in Saturday at Melbourne Park. Caroline Wozniacki, who has held the top ranking for most of the last 15 months, lost in the quarterfinals and will drop when the new rankings are released by the WTA Tour next week.

Earlier Thursday, Azarenka beat defending champion Kim Clijsters 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.