Serena continues to haunt Sharapova, Federer breezes through
By Ciaran Baynes
BRISBANE (Reuters) - Serena Williams extended her winning streak over Maria Sharapova to 14 matches following a 6-2 7-6 (9-7) win in the semi-final of the Brisbane International on Friday.
In a match which 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.
Roger Federer, who like Williams will be chasing an 18th grand slam title at the Australian Open later this month, breezed through to the men's semi-finals with a 6-1 6-1 thumping of Australian Marinko Matosevic.
Williams and Sharapova played down their animosity before the match but there was no eye contact during preliminaries and on a steamy night in Brisbane their body language remained distinctly frosty throughout.
The result was a match with an intensity scarcely seen outside of a grand slam, something Williams feels is of great benefit to her.
"(I) feel like I'm being pushed into the deep end straightaway," she said. "I think it's a good thing.
"In Melbourne if I have to face Maria again I'll know a little bit more what to expect. I really didn't know what to expect today."
Williams secured the first of the 10 service breaks in the match in the fourth game and though Sharapova broke straight back, she lost her serve twice more as the American ran out a comfortable first set winner. Continued...