The Norman Transcript

National Sports

March 29, 2013

Serena reaches Sony final to face Sharapova

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Maria Sharapova keeps drawing a different opponent in the Key Biscayne final, and has yet to find one she can beat.

Now she’ll give it a try against Serena Williams.

Sharapova, a four-time runner-up, earned another berth in the final by beating Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-1 Thursday at the Sony Open. Eight hours later, five-time champion Williams advanced when she beat defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0, 6-3.

Sharapova has lost the Key Biscayne final to four different players — Kim Clijsters in 2005, Svetlana Kuznetsova in ‘06, Victoria Azarenka in ‘11 and Radwanska last year. The No. 1-ranked Williams might be the toughest matchup for her yet.

Sharapova is 2-11 against Williams, with both of the wins way back in 2004. Williams has won their past 10 meetings and their past 13 sets.

“They have been pretty quick matches,” Sharapova said. “She’s a tremendous athlete, has so much power, and a confident player as well. So if you have a few games where you’re not stepping in and not playing the way you should be, she takes really good advantage of it.”

With a victory Saturday, the No. 3-seeded Sharapova would plug one of the few holes in her resume. She completed a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open last year but has never won the tournament near downtown Miami.

“It would mean so much to me,” the Russian said. “I absolutely love this city. It’s the first city I landed in when I came to the United States as a little girl.”

Palm Beach Gardens resident Williams considers Key Biscayne her home tournament, and she was at her best before a near-capacity crowd for the night’s final match.

“I’m excited because I’m in the final again. Yay!” she told the crowd. “So many of my friends are here. My family is here. I have to do well here. I can’t let my friends down.”

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