Serena, Sharapova again on Miami collision course

Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:23am EDT
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By Steve Keating

MIAMI (Reuters) - World number one Serena Williams led a stampede of top seeds into the quarterfinals of the Sony Open on Monday but big sister and three-time Miami champion Venus could not join the party.

On a day that saw play interrupted by rain, it seemed nothing could stop the cream of women's tennis from rising to the top with Williams, a six-time Miami champion, Australian Open winner Li Na, third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, five-time runner-up Maria Sharapova and fifth seed Angelique Kerber all moving into the last eight.

But Serena's big sister Venus could not complete the Williams family double falling 6-1 5-7 6-3 to Slovakian 10th seed Dominika Cibulkova just as the center court clock was about to strike midnight.

While Serena Williams and Sharapova clashed in last year's Miami final there will be no championship rematch this Saturday with the American and Russian on the same side of the draw and closing in on a semi-final showdown.

After getting her title defense off to a slow start, Williams, who lives an hour's drive from the Crandon Park Tennis Center and considers the event her home tournament, stepped it up a gear against Coco Vandeweghe, sweeping past the young American qualifier 6-3 6-1 in 79 minutes.

"I was definitely happier today," Williams told reporters. "I was really struggling my first two matches, so I just wanted to have a better performance today.

"Going into the match I knew I could only do better. That kind of helped out, too."

Li was no less ruthless, the Chinese world number two demolishing Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0 6-2 in 61 minutes while Radwanska grinded out a 7-6 (5) 5-7 6-2 victory over Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.   Continued...

Maria Sharapova hits a forehand against Lucie Safarova (not pictured) on day six of the Sony Open at Crandon Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports