Azarenka, Sharapova set for Indian Wells final

The top two women in the world reached the Indian Wells final on Friday as Victoria Azarenka eased through in straight sets while Maria Sharapova advanced when her opponent retired with an injury.

Updated: March 17, 2012 12:19 IST
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Indian Wells, California: The top two women in the world reached the Indian Wells final on Friday as Victoria Azarenka eased through in straight sets while Maria Sharapova advanced when her opponent retired with an injury.

World number one Azarenka extended her season-long match win streak to 22-0 by beating German Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-3 in a semi-final match on centre court.

Russia's world number two Sharapova, who won the 2006 Indian Wells title, advanced to Sunday's final when a distraught Ana Ivanovic retired from the other semi-final with a hip injury.

They meet in the first final involving the top two ranked women in the world since 2008, when No. 1 Justine Henin played No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

"She (Azarenka) is the one to beat right now and is playing some amazing tennis and is full of confidence," Sharapova said. "I hope I go out Sunday and just play some good tennis."

Reigning Australian Open champion Azarenka has three titles already this year and has now reached the final of her last six tournaments.

"I am so excited because this is the first time for me to be in the final. I love to play here," she said.

Azarenka's win streak is the longest on the WTA Tour since 1997, when Martina Hingis won 37 in a row. Serena Williams had a 21-match win streak in 2003.

Friday's night matches on centre court were played in cool and windy conditions as forecasters are predicting rain showers on Saturday when the men are scheduled to play their semi-finals.

"It made it a little more interesting," Azarenka said of the wind. "A little adversity and a challenge for us."

Azarenka, who won 70 percent of her first-serve points, needed 88 minutes to beat Kerber. She broke Kerber's serve in the final game of the match and on match point Azarenka hammered a cross-court forehand that Kerber returned long.

Kerber had five double faults, held her serve just four times and was broken six times in the match.

"I had some chances," Kerber said. "I didn't get it done. But she's a great player and she plays very good in these moments.

"I did everything I could today. But she was better."

Azarenka pulled out of last year's Indian Wells tournament after getting injured in her quarter-final against Caroline Wozniacki.

She suffered the hip injury just 10 minutes into the match while stretching to try and return a shot.

This year it was Ivanovic who was forced to retire with a sore hip. Sharapova was leading 6-4, 0-1 when Ivanovic told the chair umpire she couldn't continue.

"It is very disappointing to finish it this way," Ivanovic said. "In the end it just wasn't about tennis, it is sad."

Ivanovic called for an injury timeout late in the first set with Sharapova leading 5-4. The 15th seeded Serb left the court with a trainer to get treatment and returned for Sharapova's final service game.

"I didn't notice anything was wrong until she called the medical timeout," Sharapova said. "I would have loved to have finished the match in the right way."

Ivanovic served to win the first game of the second set but then stopped after they had played just two points of second game.

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  • Angelique Kerber
  • Maria Sharapova
  • Tennis
  • Victoria Azarenka
  • Ana Ivanovic

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