Maria Sharapova defeats World No.1 Victoria Azarenka in WTA Championship semi-final

Last Updated: 27/10/12 5:25pm

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Maria Sharapova: Delighted after reaching WTA Championship final in Istanbul

Maria Sharapova: Delighted after reaching WTA Championship final in Istanbul

Sky Bet

Maria Sharapova set up a WTA Championship final showdown against Serena Williams with a convincing 6-4 6-2 victory against Victoria Azarenka.

The Belarusian went into the clash leading 4-1 in their head-to-head meetings, but the French Open champion showed a fierce determination from the off, using bold tactics to frustrate her opponent.

Azarenka, who had already made sure of the year-end world number one ranking with victory over Li Na on Friday, was denied room to dominate as Sharapova clobbered 30 clean winners on a slow surface.

After the Russian won a close opening set, the decisive break in the second came during the important sixth game, which lasted 15 minutes.

A fired-up Sharapova, who was serving, broke Azarenka's resistance to take a 5-1 lead with a raking cross court drive before avenging important Grand Slam defeats in Melbourne and New York on her next service game.

"It will be a difficult match against Serena. She's been on fire, she's the one to beat."
Maria Sharapova

Sharapova will now fancy her chances of regaining a WTA Championships title she last won in her breakthrough year back in 2004.

"I have lost to Victoria a few times so I was happy to get the chance to play against her," said Sharapova.

"Against the world number one, you have to run down every ball. She's number one for a reason so I had to be ready for every shot.

"It will be a difficult match against Serena. She's been on fire, she's the one to beat."

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