STANFORD (AP) – Serena Williams signalled her readiness for the upcoming U.S. Open with an authoritative 6-1, 6-3 over No.2 seed Maria Sharapova at the Bank of the West Classic on Friday.
In a clash of two former world No. 1-ranked players, Williams put on a clinic with precision serving and a sharp ground game to get the better of the Russian.
|Serena Williams is playing in just her third tournament since 2010 Wimbledon. (AP)|
Williams’ semifinal opponent will be Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, who beat fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2.
Third-seeded Marion Bartoli of France advanced when Japan’sAyumi Morita retired after dropping the first set 6-1. Bartoli will meet eighth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, who beat qualifierMarina Erakovic 6-1, 6-1.
Williams, playing in just her third tournament since winning Wimbledon last year, and her first on American soil since the 2009 U.S. Open, looked as good as she did when she topped the rankings.
The fifth-ranked Sharapova had eight unforced errors before she hit her first winner and the slow start proved costly.
Williams, currently ranked No. 169, beat Sharapova for the sixth straight time and improved to 7-2 overall against her. Sharapova last beat Williams at the 2004 WTA championships.
Lisicki was a semifinalist at Wimbledon and has improved her ranking to 26th after being No. 218 in March.
“I’m looking forward to the match,” Lisicki said. “I love competing in the big matches. I have nothing to lose.”
Sharapova beat Lisicki in the semis at Wimbledon.
“Coming from grass to hardcourt is always a challenge,” Lisicki said. “It comes down to who plays the best that given day.”
Last year, Lisicki missed five months with a left ankle injury. She says she has more endurance now than before her injury.
“I’m much better than I was before the injury,” she said. “I’ve had to focus on so many aspects of my game. Last year I couldn’t even walk. Now I feel I can rely on my serve when I need it at crucial moments.”
The 20th-ranked Cibulkova, looking for her first tour title, reached her second semifinal of the year.
“I was pretty solid the whole match,” Cibulkova said. “I hope to keep playing at this level.”