Not even Serena Williams could explain her extraordinary hold on Maria Sharapova after extending her 10-year unbeaten streak over the former world No.1 to reach the Brisbane International women’s final.
World No.1 Williams subdued Sharapova 6-2 7-6 (9-7) in an intense semi-final on Friday night, clinching her 14th straight win over the four-time grand slam champion.
She will play world No.2 Victoria Azarenka on Saturday night after the Belarusian outlasted former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic 1-6 6-3 6-4.
Williams now has a 15-2 record over Sharapova.
The last time the Russian defeated Williams was way back in 2004 – much to Williams’ bewilderment.
“She’s such a good player, so it’s kind of hard to explain. I don’t know,” she said of the streak.
“I think every time I play her she brings something different.”
There was no love lost between Williams – the 17-time grand slam champion – and Sharapova in an intense semi-final after the pair’s rivalry got nasty last year.
Sharapova surprised many ahead of Wimbledon 2013 when she responded to Williams’ magazine article comments which mocked an unnamed top five player – presumed to be the Russian – and said her boyfriend had a “black heart”.
Sharapova’s beau is world No.23 Grigor Dimitrov, reportedly Williams’ ex.
“Maybe she should talk about her relationship, and her boyfriend that was married, and is getting a divorce and has kids,” Sharapova said pre-Wimbledon, referring to Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
And Sharapova’s coach Sven Groeneveld certainly tried to keep the fire burning Friday night during his miked-up court-side chat with his charge broadcast on TV in the second set.
“She knows you are in her face,” he said.
However, Williams still took another confident step toward backing up a remarkable 2013 in which she won 11 titles overall, two grand slams and more than $12 million in prizemoney.
She has a 13-3 record against Azarenka but they have split their past four matches.
Few defeated Williams in 2013 – but Azarenka did it twice.
“I feel like I’m being pushed into the deep end straight away. I also think it’s a good thing,” Williams said of the final.
“I think it’ll be a really good match to see where we both stand as the two most consistent players of the last year and a half.