Serena v Azarenka in final
Doha - Serena Williams celebrated her
recapture of the world number one ranking with her best performance of
the year in a 6-3, 6-2 trouncing of Maria Sharapova to reach the Qatar
Open final on Saturday.
Spectacularly heavy hitting carried the
15-time Grand Slam title-winner into Sunday's final against top seed and
defending champion Victoria Azarenka.
Saturday's defeat for
French Open champion Sharapova was the Russian's first in Doha where she
had won the title in both her previous appearances.
showed few signs of the back and ankle injuries or of the cold which had
been bothering her, and it was as if regaining the top spot, as she
will on Monday, had removed the shackles from her mind and body.
also earned Williams a final against Australian Open winner Azarenka
and gives her a chance to prove she is indeed better than an opponent
who will hold the top spot for just one more day.
Williams' standard was a revelation.
was the heavy movement which weighed her down during her narrow escape
against Petra Kvitova in Friday's quarter-finals, and in its place was
dynamic early ball hitting to follow up the best serve in the women's
The 31-year-old, who will be chasing a 48th career title on
Sunday, also served far better than previously this week, and once
Sharapova had delivered a double fault to drop serve in the sixth game
Williams got on top and never looked back.
"Maria always plays
well and consistently and I am just trying to be consistent as well,"
said Williams, who will become the oldest woman to hold the top ranking
"Tomorrow will be a great match. You guys hopefully will come out and cheer for me."
too hit the ball a mighty blow, and the weight and fierceness of some
of the rallies between them can rarely have been equalled.
hard as the Russian tried to give back as much as she got, she never
looked like preventing her 10th consecutive loss to the American.
the only leading player in the world who remains unbeaten this year,
also looked impressive, achieving her 13th successive win of 2013.
top-seeded Belarusian did that with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Agnieszka
Radwanska of Poland, a thumping result against the fourth best player in
the world and one which might lead to back-to-back defence of titles.
Azarenka successfully defended the Australian Open last month.
grown up a little bit," said Azarenka. "It's maturity and a little more
experience. The beginning of last year was a kick start for me to find
more rhythm and step up my game.
"I also love it here (in Doha) and it feels like home, so I am glad I am in the final again."