Tennis: Serena overcomes poor serve to flatten Sharapova in Brisbane

Serena Williams of the US reacts, as she defeats Maria Sharapova of Russia during their women's singles semi-finals match at the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, on Jan 3, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Serena Williams of the US reacts, as she defeats Maria Sharapova of Russia during their women's singles semi-finals match at the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, on Jan 3, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BRISBANE (REUTERS, AFP) - Serena Williams did not let her misfiring serve stop her from defeating Maria Sharapova 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) to reach the final of tennis' Brisbane International on Friday.

The world No.1 extended her winning streak over the Russian to 14 matches.

Williams prevailed despite serving poorly throughout, with Sharapova unable to take advantage in a match where there were 10 breaks of serve in total.

The American will now face world No.2 Victoria Azarenka in Saturday's final after the Belarusian defeated Serbia's Jelena Jankovic 1-6 6-3 6-4.

In the men's section, Roger Federer gave a tennis masterclass during his quarter-final on Friday, taking under an hour to demolish Australian Marinko Matosevic for the loss of just two games.

The top seeded Federer booked a semi-final against France's Jeremy Chardy with his imperious 57-minute 6-1, 6-1 win over an outclassed Matosevic.

Eighth seed Chardy had earlier downed another Australian, wild card Sam Groth, 7-5, 6-4.

The second semi-final will be between second seed Kei Nishikori of Japan and crowd favourite Lleyton Hewitt.

Nishikori outlasted big-serving Croat Marin Cilic 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, while Hewitt was too good for Romanian qualifier Marius Copil, beating him 6-4, 6-2.

But all eyes were on Federer, who is playing in Brisbane for the first time in his career.

The unheralded Matosevic actually started the better of the two, quickly opening up three break points on Federer's opening serve.

However, the Swiss great saved all three and raced away to a 5-0 lead before the Australian finally held serve to get on the scoreboard.

Matosevic won his opening serve of the second set but that was as good as it was to get, as Federer eased away against an increasingly demoralised opponent.

"Tonight I felt very good against Matosevic who can play very dangerously," Federer said.

"He's got a good enough serve and return as well.

"But I was able to control most of the match except the very beginning."

Nishikori and Cilic had to play in the heat of the day, but the Japanese world No.17 tamed the big-serving Croat in temperatures approaching 37 deg C, winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 in two hours, 37 minutes.

"It was hot - it was tough conditions, especially playing a one hour (first) set and almost two hours and 40 minutes," he said. "It was not easy, but I'm happy to finish strong in third set.

"He was a little bit dropping his level (in the third) I think, yeah, I'm very happy today."

The Japanese said he expected a tough battle against Hewitt.

"He's always tough to play - he doesn't miss much," Nishikori said of the Australian veteran.

"It's not easy (to play him) because he has decent serves and a good return and good backhand - very solid on ground strokes."

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