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Serena Williams, Li Na advance to the 2014 Sony Open Final

IMG_7891_SerenaSerena Williams beat Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the Sony Open final. For the 17-time major winner, it was her 15th straight win over the Russian improving her record overall to 16-2.

The American had to rally from deficits in each set during her semifinal match – 1-4 in the first set and 0-2 in the second.

“I wasn’t playing my best,” Williams said. “I knew if I wanted to stay in the tournament and make another final, I just had to play better.”

“I started off really well, and I was up in a lot of the games and didn’t win them today.” Sharapova said.

“The first set started off really well and I had more break points. She served her way out of trouble on those in the first set, and then the second set was up 2‑0, 40‑15, which was a game I should have taken, pretty important game.

“Yeah, I was in it and then I was not.”

“I have always felt when I’m playing at my best, then it’s hard for people to beat me,” Williams said. “But I have to get there, and it’s hard to always be at your best, obviously.

“I think that is what’s special, and that’s why there is a lot of rivals now.”

“Despite my results against her, I still look forward to playing against her because you learn so much from that type of level which she produces,” Sharapova explained.

“You finish the match, and you know where you need to improve and the things that you need to work on, because someone like her who is so powerful and explosive and, you know, is in there every point, that teaches you to make sure that you’re in there every point and you’re doing your thing, you know, consistently, not just for a short period of time.”

No. 1 Williams will face No. 2 Li Na in the final on Saturday. In a rematch of the Australian Open final Li beat Dominka Cibulkova 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. rebounding from a 1-3 deficit in the final set.

For Li it will be her first Miami final. Williams will be attempting to defend her title and win a record seventh Sony Open crown. Williams has a 10-1 record against Li.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor in Miami. She writes for various tennis and news outlets and is the Editor-in-Chief of Tennis Panorama News. Follow her on Twittter @TennisNewsTPN.

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