• Brisbane International

Serena overcomes Sharapova in Brisbane battle

ESPN staff
January 3, 2014
Serena Williams managed to come through in straight sets © Getty Images

Serena Williams recorded her 14th straight victory over Maria Sharapova to reach the final of the Brisbane International, where she will aim to defend her crown against Victoria Azarenka.

Williams, who lost two of her opening three matches to Sharapova, made it another win against the four-time grand slam champion, but it was far from easy for the world No. 1, who fought back on more than one occasion from a break down to come through in straight sets 6-2 7-6(7).

Williams broke to open up a 3-1 advantage in the first set, but after two double faults very quickly handed the break back to her opponent.

However, Sharapova could not capitalise to level at 3-3 as Williams showed great defensive work from behind the baseline to move into a 4-2 lead, before taking the opening set 6-2.

Tension was high in the second set as the pair exchanged six breaks of serve in the first eight games.

A tie-break was required to separate the pair, which was only the second of their 17 encounters, and it appeared as though Sharapova would force a deciding set when she went 5-4 in front with a mini-break.

But, Williams burst into life to reclaim the mini-break, and then clinch one of her own at 8-7, before serving an ace down the middle to finish off her opponent on her third match point.

Azarenka booked her place in the final after coming from a set down to get the better of former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.

Azarenka, the reigning and back-to-back Australian Open champion, was crushed in the opening set but was able to dig deep to collect a 1-6 6-3 6-4 win.

Meanwhile, at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, the two biggest names in the draw Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams will face each other in the final.

Williams benefited thanks to a walkover after her opponent Jamie Hampton withdrew from the event with a hip injury, while Ivanovic beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-0 7-6(3).

Ana Ivanovic came through in straight sets © Getty Images

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