Serena power flattens Sharapova

Federer breezes through to Brisbane semifinals

Serena power flattens Sharapova

Serena Williams extended her winning streak over Maria Sharapova to 14 matches following a 6-2 7-6 (9-7) win in the semifinal 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 semifinals 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.’’

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.

The Russian responded well to hold a 2-1 lead after three consecutive breaks of serve in the second set, before calling her coach Sven Groeneveld to courtside.  

Sharapova did win the ensuing service game, but lost the next one to restore parity.

In the tiebreak Williams' brutal groundstrokes gave her the advantage but consecutive double faults kept her opponent in it and she needed three match points before sealing victory with an ace.

Azarenka secured her place in the final with a see-saw victory over Serbia's Jelena Jankovic 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Federer, however, is unlikely to gauge much about where his game stands up against the likes of rivals Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray after enjoying yet another easy workout in Brisbane.

He will now meet eighth seed Jeremy Chardy in the semifinal after the Frenchman beat Australia's Sam Groth 7-5, 6-4.

There is local interest in the other semifinal as Lleyton Hewitt faces number two seed Kei Nishikori of Japan. Hewitt beat Romania's Marius Copi 6-4, 6-2, while Nishikori topped Croatian Marin Cilic 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. 

Ivanovic in final

Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic overcame a second set resistance to beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens on Friday and set up an Auckland Classic final against former world number one Venus Williams. The American was given a walkover to the final after her compatriot, fifth seed Jamie
 Hampton, was forced to withdraw from their semifinal after suffering a right hip injury in practice.

Ivanovic defeated Flipkens 6-0, 7-6 (7-3).

France in final France set up Saturday’s Hopman Cup final with Poland after Alize Cornet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat defending champions Spain 3-0 in the mixed teams event on Friday.

France, who lost their earlier finals in 1998 and 2012, will want it to be third time lucky as they face the top-seeded Polish duo of Agnieszka Radwanska and Grzegorz Panfil in the title match at the Perth Arena.

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