Serena mauls Sharapova to reach Wimbledon final

LONDON – Serena Williams feasted on familiar prey as she reached an eighth Wimbledon final with a superb 6-2 6-4 victory over Maria Sharapova on Thursday, her 17th win in a row over the Russian.

The five times champion is one match away from reinforcing her stranglehold on the women’s game by holding all four grand slam titles at the same time, a feat she will achieve for the second occasion if she beats 20th-seeded surprise package Garbine Muguruza of Spain in Saturday’s final.

“I’m so excited. I got a bit nervous because it was a semi-final and it’s a long time since I’ve been this far,” said Williams, who last reached the Wimbledon final in 2012.

“I’m excited to get through it.

“Maria played well and when she stepped up, I managed to step up. It wasn’t easy, it was interesting.”

Sharapova could not deal with the ferocity of the Williams return, her serve crumbling as the American increased the pressure.

The Russian is one of the game’s most powerful hitters but looked overawed at times in the face of Williams’s sledgehammer game.

Double faults are a familiar flaw for Sharapova, but three in the opening game handed an early break and the initiative to her opponent.

It was then one-way traffic as a cool-headed Williams set about savagely dismantling her opponent.

The world number one launched an attacking barrage, breaking twice in the first set, which she clinched in 33 minutes with a scorching backhand winner.

The second set was closer as Sharapova ditched all caution and came out swinging, but when Williams broke for a 3-2 lead, the outcome seemed inevitable.

Sharapova saved one match point on her own serve, but the reprieve lasted just one game as Williams brought up another match point with an ace and thundered down a huge serve to clinch a one-sided victory. -Reuters

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