MADRID – Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will battle it out for the world number one ranking when they meet in the Madrid Open final on Sunday after both came through Saturday’s semi-finals in straight sets.
Sharapova will compete in her first Madrid final after beating Serbian Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-3.
Williams was first to book her place in the final as she edged a close first set when she broke in the 12th game before comfortably taking the second to progress in just over 90 minutes.
And the 15-time Grand Slam champion was happier with her performance against the Italian than the error-strewn display she produced against Spanish wildcard Anabel Medina Garrigues in the quarter-finals.
“I feel that I played solid. In the second set more than the first I made fewer errors, which was something that I needed to do,” she said.
The 2012 Madrid champion insisted she believes she is the world’s best player and is set on retaining her status as number one to prove it.
“Obviously I love being number one. In my heart I feel I’m number one, but also I love to win tournaments.
“So I think if I just win as many tournaments as I can then I’ll continue to be number one.”
Sharapova has the chance to dethrone Williams should she manage a first victory in nine years over the 31-year-old.
The French Open champion has yet to drop a set this week and after a tight start she began to unleash her powerful ground strokes with some authority towards the end of the first set, culminating in a second break of serve which allowed her to take it 6-4.
Ivanovic responded by breaking straight away in the second, but Sharapova roared back and broke in consecutive games to turn the set around and ease into her fourth final in her last four events.
“I thought I played a really good game to get myself back in that second set,” she said.
“Overall I’m pretty happy with the way I played.
“Of course it’s always tough against Serena. I haven’t had a win against her in a long time, but the great thing is that I’m setting myself up in a position where I can try to change that around.
“Getting to the final is a great achievement here. I haven’t been at this stage yet, so I am obviously looking forward to it.”