Maria Sharapova vs. Serena Williams in WTA Finals

Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams won in straight sets to advance to today’s final of the WTA Championships in Istanbul.

Sharapova, the No. 2 seed, beat top-ranked Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 to reach the final of the season-ending tournament of women’s tennis for the third time. The Russian won the title in 2004 and was runner-up three years later.

“When you find yourself in a losing position a few times during the year, you want to try to figure out how to change those things around,” Sharapova told reporters yesterday. “I certainly didn’t make as many mistakes today as I did in our previous matches this year.”

Azarenka, who clinched the top spot in the year-end ranking with her victory over China’s Li Na two days ago, said she wasn’t going to make excuses for her loss yesterday.

“I give Maria all the credit today,” Azarenka of Belarus told reporters. “She played really well and looks in great form. I finished a loss with a smile for the first time. It didn’t feel as bad today.”

Third-seeded Williams beat No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2, 6-1 in the opening semifinal. The 15-time Grand Slam winner will be playing in her fifth WTA Championship final, having captured the title in 2001 and 2009.

Williams has won nine of 11 career meetings with Sharapova, including a 6-0, 6-1 rout in the gold-medal match at this summer’s London Olympics.

It was the first time since 2003 that the top four seeds reached the WTA Championship semifinals.

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