Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Williams slays Sharapova to reach ninth Miami Masters final

March 28, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Serena Williams punches the air in delight during her semifinal match-up with Russia's Maria Sharapova.
Serena Williams punches the air in delight during her semifinal match-up with Russia's Maria Sharapova.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Serena Williams advances to Miami Masters final with straight sets semifinal win
  • Defending champion beats Maria Sharapova for 15th time in a row
  • American will next face Australian Open champion Li Na
  • Men's No. 1 Rafael Nadal sets up semifinal clash with Tomas Berdych

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Serena Williams is through to her ninth Miami Masters final after beating Maria Sharapova at Crandon Park on Thursday.

Defending champion Williams trailed early on in the match before powering her way past her Russian opponent in straight sets 6-4 6-3.

Sharapova had worked an early lead, breaking in the fourth game of the opening set and led 4-1 at one stage.

But her advantage was short-lived as Williams reeled off five games in a row to close out the set.

The fourth seed broke Williams again in the second game of the second set to steal an early advantage, but any momentum gained was immediately lost as the world No. 1 broke back in the very next game.

Venus Williams fights incurable disease
Beach workout lifts your game

Further breaks in the seventh and finally the ninth game sealed Sharapova's fate, dashing hopes that she could break her duck in a tournament where she has finished runner-up on five occasions.

"It wasn't easy," Williams said afterwards. "Obviously Maria plays really well, and she's done really well here, so I just decided I had to do a little better, stay focused and make more shots."

This latest defeat is the Russian's 15th in a row against the American -- a sequence which stretches all the way back to 2004.

Williams will play Li Na in Saturday's final after China's world No. 2 beat Dominika Cibulkova in a rematch of January's Australian Open title match.

It went to three sets, as did their quarterfinal clash at Indian Wells this month, before Li prevailed 7-5 2-6 6-3 against the Slovakian 10th seed to become the first player from her country to reach the Miami final.

The 32-year-old is seeking to end a run of nine consecutive defeats against Williams, the last of which was in the final of last season's WTA Championships.

"It's a good challenge, I think," she said. "Here we can really see how I've improved in these three, four months."

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal fought his way into the men's semifinals, where he will face 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych.

The Spaniard needed to come from behind against big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, winning 4-6 6-2 6-4 in two hours and 35 minutes.

"For me to be in semifinals after losing early in Indian Wells is very important for my confidence," said Nadal, a three-time losing finalist in the hard-court tournament.

Nadal has a 16-match winning streak against Berdych, who will return to the top five in the rankings after earlier battling past Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4 7-6 (7/3) in the third quarterfinal.

It was the Czech's 450th ATP Tour victory, making him just the ninth active player to achieve that milestone.

"He was a very tricky opponent," said Berdych. "Even the conditions were not the perfect way that I really like. It was quite windy, so it was a little bit more difficult. But I handled it quite well."

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic and Japan's Kei Nishikori, who beat Andy Murray and Roger Federer respectively in their quarterfinal ties, will contest the first semifinal on Friday.

Read more: Roger Federer upset by Kei Nishikori

Watch: Venus Williams fights incurable disease

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1101 GMT (1901 HKT)
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
Rafael Nadal is still the "King of Clay" -- but his crown has slipped a bit, says CNN's Will Edmonds.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
British tennis player Elena Baltacha won 11 ITF Pro Circuit titles during her 16-year playing career.
The Ukrainian-born, British tennis star loses fight against liver cancer, just a few weeks after revealing that she was battling the disease.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis."
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.
ADVERTISEMENT