Serena Williams cruised past No. 2 Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 Friday to advance to the Madrid Open semifinals along with top-ranked Victoria Azarenka.
Williams sealed her seventh straight win over Sharapova with an emphatic slam on the new blue-clay court. Azarenka overcame a shaky start to beat French Open winner Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The ninth-ranked Williams opened strong, hitting six aces and earning two early breaks to take the first set.
Sharapova broke at love to even the score at 2-2 in the second set, but she quickly squandered her break with a costly sixth double-fault to fall behind for good.
Williams, who improved to 11-0 on clay this year, will face either U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur or Czech Lucie Hradecka.
After Azarenka struggled on serve early on, last year’s runner-up found her stride and broke her Chinese opponent’s first two service games of the second set en route to pulling even at a set each.
Azarenka, who has won four titles this season, then used her powerful groundstrokes to take a 4-0 lead in the decider before holding off Li’s late charge.
“There are a lot of things that I had to change and come up with in order to surprise her because she was pretty unbelievable in the first set,” said Azarenka. “I had to turn something around, I don’t know if it was confidence or if it was self belief or just pushing myself to be better and really wanting to win the match.”
Azarenka said she supported Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in their criticism of the change away from red clay to the new surface.
“I do agree that it is very slippery. You feel unstable sometimes, actually, a lot of times,” she said. “But right now there is no point on talking about it. After the tournament all the players can get together and discuss it.”
The Belarusian will face Agnieszka Radwanska after she beat American Varvara Lepchenko 6-4, 6-4.
On the men’s side, Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro hit 10 aces to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-3, 6-4 and move on to a semifinal with Tomas Berdych.
Berdych dispatched Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-2, as the Spaniard made 24 unforced errors and showed little of the flare he displayed in the upset of the second-ranked Rafael Nadal on Friday.
Later, defending champion Novak Djokovic plays Serbian countryman Janko Tipsarevic before Roger Federer faces David Ferrer.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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