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Miami Masters: Serena to face Sharapova in epic semifinals clash

Miami: Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams will have a rematch of their 2013 final in the ATP and WTA Miami Masters semi-finals on Thursday after both advanced in formidable style Tuesday.

Sharapova, who has not beaten the world number one American since 2004 and has lost 14 consecutive matches in the rivalry, regained her big-match confidence after twice being pushed to three sets by defeating Petra Kvitova 7-5, 6-1.

Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams
Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Pic/ AFP

Top seed Williams pounded German fifth seed Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-2, taking 62 minutes and ending with seven aces and four breaks of serve in windy conditions.

"When the wind picked up I just had to concentrate," said Williams, who holds six Miami titles. "I felt better today than in any of my other matches.

"When you're facing a top-10 player, you have to lift your game, That's what I was able to do."

Fourth seed Sharapova's 90-minute victory over the Kvitova, a fellow Wimbledon champion, was a relief for five-time Miami finalist Sharapova, who had faced huge battle in her previous two victories.

This time, it was relatively straightforward for the crowd-pleaser as she bids for her first Miami crown.

"I didn't have a good first few games, so I was happy that I was steady, that I kept trying to do the right thing, kept trying to be aggressive," said Sharapova. "It paid off as the match went on, because I made a few too many unforced errors in the beginning.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova broke four times as she was untroubled by Kvitova after the early stages, in which she lost the opening game but got the break back midway through the set.

"She's a grand slam champion," said Sharapova of Kvitova. "You can never underestimate someone that goes on the court that has that experience, that's had such a big win in her career.

"She's capable of playing really great tennis, and I think everyone knows that."

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