Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 4th 2014 Contents A54
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, January 4, 2014
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA---Serena Williams extended
her winning streak against Maria Sharapova to 14
matches with a 6-2, 7-6 (7) semifinal victory yes-
terday to earn a shot at back-to-back Brisbane
The defending champion will play second-seeded
Victoria Azarenka in Saturday s final, and will be
favoured to retain the title that kicked off her stunning
2013 season that included 78 wins from 82 matches
and 11 titles.
After blowing two match points in the tiebreaker,
Williams sealed the win with her seventh ace against
the third-seeded Sharapova.
In their first meeting since the French Open final,
the uneasy rivals barely exchanged glances before
the match and only briefly shook hands after.
Both players were returning aggressively---leading
to 15 double-faults between them and six breaks of
serve in the second set---and hitting their grounds
strokes hard and deep. Williams hit consecutive dou-
ble-faults to give Sharapova a mini-break at 5-4 in
the tiebreaker, something she said she couldn t
remember ever doing before on tour. Sharapova
responded with a double-fault to make it 5-5, and
said she d missed her opportunities.
Any friendship that existed between the pair soured
when they traded personal barbs relating to their
romantic relationships ahead of last year s Wimbledon,
where Sharapova made an early exit.
Sharapova only played one match after that in 2013
as she recovered from a right shoulder problem.
Williams said she d need to vastly improve her
first-serve percentage---which sunk to 40 in the semi-
finals --- to beat Australian Open champion Azarenka,
who overcame a shaky serve and another case of the
nerves to beat former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic
1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Azarenka had her problems on serve, too. She
dropped her first three service games and was facing
three break points in the opening game of the second
set when she shifted the momentum with a winner
she picked up on a half-volley when Jankovic was
in control of the point.
After needing ten match points to beat Stefanie
Voegele in the quarterfinals the previous night, Azaren-
ka missed one chance to serve it out at 5-2 in the
deciding set, conceding a break with a double-fault.
She then missed a match point at 5-4 but held
her nerve and finally finished it off on her second
The prospect of a match against another top four
player so close to the Australian Open doesn t daunt
"I don t think it s ever too early. If you want to
win big titles you got to play against the best players,"
On the men s side, top-seeded Roger Federer coast-
ed to a 6-1, 6-1 win over Marinko Matosevic of Aus-
tralia and moved into a semifinal against No 8 Jeremy
Chardy of France.
Second-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan reached the
semifinals with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 win over Marin Cilic
of Croatia and will next play former No. 1-ranked
Lleyton Hewitt, who cruised past Romanian qualifier
Marius Copil 6-4, 6-2.
Both Williams sisters will be playing finals Saturday,
with Venus Williams to face Ana Ivanovic in the title
match at the WTA tournament in Auckland, New
Venus Williams got a walkover into her first final
since October 2012 when Jamie Hampton withdrew
from their semifinal with a right hip injury. Ivanovic
beat third-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-2,
At the Hopman Cup, France clinched a place in
the final against Poland with a victory over winless
Serena beats Sharapova
in Brisbane semis
Alize Cornet beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-2,
6-2 before Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sealed the victory by
defeating 194th-ranked Daniel Munoz-De La Nava
6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-2.
The Czech Republic took a 3-0 win over the United
States after John Isner withdrew ahead of his singles
match and Sloane Stephens retired with a left wrist
problem after losing the first set 6-3 to Petra Kvi-
Serena Williams of
the US celebrates
upon beating Maria
Sharapova of Russia
6-2, 7-6 in their
during the Brisbane
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