Rome - World No 1 Serena Williams said she
hoped to improve her game for the French Open after easing into the Rome Open
final with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Simona Halep which ended the qualifier's dream
week in the Italian capital.
Williams, the 15-times Grand Slam winner, stretched her run of consecutive wins
to 23 on her way to Sunday's final, where she will meet Victoria Azarenka in a
final for the first time since her defeat to the Belarusian earlier this year
Azarenka, the third seed, proved too strong for Italian hopeful Sara Errani in
a 6-0, 7-5 win in the other semi-final that was interrupted by rain twice and
once by Errani, who called for her coach after losing the first three games.
Williams, meanwhile, will head to next week's French Open as one of the
favourites and with revenge on her mind after a shock defeat in last year's
tournament to Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano.
Ahead of that challenge, the 30-year-old American will be hoping for a more
telling workout against Azarenka after a limpid semi-final in which Romanian
Halep failed to offer any kind of challenge.
Williams was so unhappy with her match that she went to practice for two hours
before speaking to reporters, and said: "I am only unhappy with the way I
played and I need to work on a few things and be able to do well here and next
Asked about Azarenka and their last final encounter in the Gulf, the American
indicated she expects an altogether different challenge on Sunday.
"She played well in that match (in Doha) and I was happy in the
final," said Williams. "It was a tough tournament and I had
opportunities that I wasn't able to use, and Viki plays well in the vital
Errani had been gifted a place in the semi-final when defending two-time
champion Maria Sharapova of Russia withdrew early on Friday citing a fever.
However it was clear from the start that the Italian would be up against it.
In spite of the hot and humid conditions, Azarenka barely broke sweat on her
way to a first-set whitewash.
Errani, who had beaten the Belarusian only once in their six previous
encounters, emerged with bigger ambitions in the second set.
But despite battling all the way, she was ultimately broken in the 10th game
before Azarenka served to take a 6-5 lead.
Errani valiantly saved three match points in the final game but was finally
broken by the more powerful Belarusian.
Results on the seventh day of the ATP Rome Masters/WTA Rome Open on Saturday (x denotes seeding):
Rafael Nadal (ESP x5) bt Tomas Berdych (CZE x6) 6-2, 6-4
Benoit Paire (FRA) v Roger Federer (SUI x2)
Semi-finalsSerena Williams (USA x1) bt Simona Halep (ROM) 6-3, 6-0
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x3) bt Sara Errani (ITA x7) 6-0, 7-5