Madrid: Serena Williams will meet top-ranked Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Madrid Open after both players dispensed with their opponents in straight sets on Saturday.
Serena beat qualifier Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (5), 6-0 on the new blue-clay court after Azarenka ousted fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4.
On the men’s side, Tomas Berdych edged Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) to advance to Sunday’s final against Roger Federer, who defeated Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 6-3.
Federer can displace Rafael Nadal as the second-ranked player if he wins the tournament. Nadal lost to Fernando Verdasco on Thursday. The ninth-ranked Serena edged the tenacious Czech to have a shot at her second title of the season. Azarenka has won four tournaments this year.
“Victoria has been so consistent in her game this year,” Serena said. “She is so consistent, so amazing and so, just nearly perfect. I am going to the final with nothing to lose.”
Serena holds a 6-1 head-to-head record against Azarenka, whose only win came in 2009. This will be the first time they meet on clay. “She’s one of the best players in the world and one of the toughest opponents to play against so we’ll see,” Azarenka said. “But as I said, it’s going to be a different story.”
In breezy conditions, seventh seed Tipsarevic could not reproduce the form that helped him to a shock quarter-final win against top seed and Serbian compatriot Novak Djokovic and has now lost all five of his meetings with Federer.
Federer came into the tournament following a month-long rest and the 30-year-old is looking in ominous form as the world’s top players prepare for the French Open starting in Paris later this month.
The 2009 Roland Garros and Madrid winner has won titles this year in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells and has only lost three times since falling to Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals last September.
“I didn’t even know actually about the No. 2 ranking,” the 16-time Grand Slam singles champion, whose match was watched by Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, told a news conference.
“I’m focused on what I am doing here this week, trying to play well and get on a bit of a roll and I have played better and better as the tournament went on,” he added.