Serena vs Azarenka for Qatar Open final
DOHA, Qatar (AP) – A day after securing the No 1 ranking, Serena Williams downed Maria Sharapova for a 10th straight time 6-3, 6-2 to reach the Qatar Open final on Saturday.
Williams faces Victoria Azarenka, whom she will replace at the top in Monday’s new rankings update. Azarenka beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-3 in the other semifinal, earning her 13th straight victory in 2013.
While Azarenka has been on a roll, she doesn’t have a good record against Williams. The American was up 11-1 in their head-to-heads, including winning their last nine matches. However, both players dismissed the lopsided record, with Williiams insisting she won’t have any psychological advantage.
“You have to go in with a new spirit and, you know, it’s a new day,” she said. “The slate is wiped clean to me.”
Williams, who had been inconsistent for much of the week and struggled with her first serve, looked her old self at Sharapova’s expense. The third-ranked Russian had no answer for Williams’ first or even second serve, which resulted in six aces and 78 percent of first-service points won.
A double fault from Sharapova gave Williams the only break of the first set at 4-2. She consolidated the break with a love service game and closed out the set with two aces.
Sharapova came out stronger in the second and had a chance to go up 2-0. But Williams saved the break point and broke to go up 2-1.
Williams broke again to make it 5-2. Serving for the match, she tightened up but saved a break point and prevailed when Sharapova hit a crosscourt forehand wide.
“Definitely the best I played. I had to play better,” Williams said. “I’m playing a player that’s very consistent, doesn’t lose often, just usually in finals and semis. So I had to be on my game today.”
Williams said securing the No 1 spot, and becoming the oldest player at 31 to earn the honor, in her quarterfinal victory against Petra Kvitova helped relieve some stress.