Miami, March 29 (IANS/RIA Novosti) For Maria Sharapova, reaching the Miami Masters finals has been less than a struggle.
Winning, however, has proved elusive. But the third-ranked Russian, who has lost four final appearances at Key Biscayne over her career, will get another shot, albeit a tough one, Saturday when she faces World No.1 Serena Williams after breezing past Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-1 in the semi-finals.
Sharapova, who hasn’t beaten Williams since 2004, and holds a 2-11 record against the American, heads into the finals riding an 11-match winning streak. After a shaky 7-5, 7-5 win over Sara Errani in the quarter-finals, Sharapova got ahead early over the No. 22-seeded Jankovic Thursday, winning the first 10 points and committing only 10 unforced errors.
“It was important for me to be there physically and mentally because I didn’t feel I played my best tennis (against Errani),” Sharapova told the WTA’s website. “It was really important to go out, change a few things and just have a better mentality, be a bit more positive, and I felt like I did a few things better today.”
Williams reached the finals after beating last year’s Miami Masters winner Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0, 6-3. She hit 12 aces and 40 winners, dropping Radwanska’s record against No. 1 players to 1-11.
Williams said she expects a tough match from Sharapova, who has won 22 consecutive sets, as well as the Indian Wells tourament earlier this month.
“She’s playing awesome,” said Williams, a five-time winner at Miami. “She hasn’t lost in a long time, so I have to be ready.”
In the men’s draw, second-seeded Andy Murray defeated Croatia’s Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3 to book a semifinal encounter against Richard Gasquet, the eighth seed. Gasquet handily put away fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych in the quarters, preventing the Czech from converting a single break point in a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
The second semi-final features David Ferrer against Tommy Haas.