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Serena to meet Li in the final

Miami: World No. 1 Rafael Nadal took another step towards a first Miami title by out-slugging big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals.

Nadal, a three-time runner-up on the Miami hardcourts, will play seventh seed Tomas Berdych for a place in Sunday’s final after the Czech eased into the last four with 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov.

The other semi-final will see world No. 2 Novak Djokovic take on Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who has already beaten fourth seed David Ferrer and Roger Federer.

Nadal’s resume includes 62 career titles, including two this year but the Miami trophy has consistently eluded the 13-time Grand Slam winner.

The Spaniard, however, has been in brilliant form in Miami appearing determined to correct that oversight.

On the women’s front, Serena Williams and Li Na swept past familiar foes on Thursday, setting up an exciting showdown for the Miami hardcourt crown between the world’s top ranked players.

World No. 1 Serena continued her utter domination over Maria Sharapova with a 6-4, 6-3 win over the fourth-seeded Russian, while second-ranked Li won a rematch of her Australian Open final, beating Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to maintain her perfect record against the Slovakian.

A six-time Miami champion, the American’s victory ran her winning streak against Sharapova to 15 matches, a stunning run that stretches back to 2004.

Li’s mastery over Cibulkova may not span as many years but is no less complete, the Chinese veteran sweeping all seven of their meetings over a decade-long span.

Meanwhile, after Nadal was happy after a hard-fought victory. “It’s a very important victory for me,” said Nadal. “Very hard to play against these kind of players and especially when the match didn't start the way that you would like.