Sharapova books Serena showdown

ESPN staff
February 15, 2013
Maria Sharapova was focused in victory over Sam Stosur © Getty Images

Maria Sharapova set up a semi-final showdown with Serena Williams at the Qatar Open after she beat Sam Stosur on Friday

Williams' own victory over Petra Kvitova means that at 31 she will become the oldest No. 1 in women's tennis when she takes over from Victoria Azarenka at the top of the rankings on Monday.

Chris Evert at 30 was the previous oldest holder of the No. 1 slot.

Sharapova, the No. 3 seed, made light work of Stosur, triumphing 6-2 6-4 in the last-eight stage with victory arriving in 82 minutes.

Stosur had few answers for Sharapova, whose first serve was on fire in the opening set. Eighty per cent of her first deliveries hit the spot, which was a key statistic given that she lost all five points on second serve.

Stosur was broken twice as she failed to match the power of a player who held an 11-2 head-to-head advantage going into the match.

Sharapova maintained her intensity in the second and moved ahead once again, although her second serve was still extremely weak as Stosur penetrated for the first time. The Russian was always in control though, earning another break, and closed the match out by serving to love.

Serena Williams' serve was once again the deciding factor in helping her progress against a battle-ready Petra Kvitova.

The American rallied from losing the first set in Doha to eventually win 3-6 6-3 7-5 and while both players made eight doubles faults, Williams hit 14 aces overall - six in the tight final set.

After two straight sets victories, second seed Williams had hardly been tested coming into the match with the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

Whereas the Czech player had come from a set down against Russian Nadia Petrova in her previous round and was unsurprisingly keen for it to be her who made the early running against Williams.

In taking the first set 6-3, Kvitova did not even face one break point. She gave away one in the second set however and that was all Williams needed to take the initiative and force a deciding set.

The third was categorised by poor serving all round, with the exception of Williams' aces, and it was her superiority in that department which helped bring about victory.

Victoria Azarenka took her place in the semi-finals with a 6-2 6-2 win over Italian Sara Errani yet the out-going world No. 1 failed to match an effective first serve with a reliable second serve in either set.

When her second serve looked rock solid in the opening set, she could only land 62% of her first serves in. But a jump up to 80% in her first-serve accuracy during the second set was undermined by four double faults.

Being unreliable on her second serve carried greater negative effects as it meant she had to scramble and save four out of five break points against her, compared with facing just two break points in the first set.

No. 6 seed Errani was not capable of capitalising on her opponent's slight defects and suffered her fifth career defeat to the 23-year-old Belarusian, who will now play either Caroline Wozniacki or Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi-finals.

Caroline Wozniacki was kept at an arm's length by world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska as the Pole booked herself a semi-final spot with Azarenka.

Radwanska won 6-2 7-5 and converted seven of her nine break points to end what could potentially have been a drawn out battle with the Dane in just over an hour and a half.

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