Serena Williams played erratically but still beat Maria Sharapova 6-2 7-6 (9-7) on Friday (January 3) to reach the final of the Brisbane International.
In a match that involved poor serving and high-quality groundstrokes in equal measure, Williams maintained her hold over Sharapova to set up a final showdown with second seed, Victoria Azarenka.
Williams’ semi-final victory over the world number four extended her winning streak against the Russian to 14 consecutive matches. Sharapova failed to take real advantage in a match comprising 10 breaks of serve.
Williams secured the first of the 10 in the fourth game and although Sharapova broke straight back, she lost her serve twice more as the American ran out a comfortable first set winner.
The Russian responded well to hold a 2-1 lead after three consecutive breaks of serve in the second set, then won the ensuing service game, but lost the next one to restore parity.
In the tiebreak, Williams’ groundstrokes gave her the advantage, but Sharapova saved one match point with a smash and the American needed three match points before sealing victory with an ace.
Serena praised her opponent, saying of the tiebreak: “Yes, it definitely could have gone either way, Maria was playing so well. It’s a wonder that she took some time off. But you definitely can’t tell. So, she gave me a really tough tiebreak and a tough match today.”
Azarenka defeated Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic 1-6 6-3 6-4 in the second semi-final, although she, too, played erratically against the world number eight.