Sharapova Advances To Sony Finals

KEY BISCAYNE (AP) — Four-time runner-up Maria Sharapova advanced to another Key Biscayne final by beating Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday at the Sony Open.

With a victory Saturday, the No. 3-seeded Sharapova would plug one of the few holes in her resume. She completed a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open last year but has never won the Miami tournament.

“It would mean so much to me,” the Russian said. “I absolutely love this city. It’s the first city I landed in when I came to the United States as a little girl.”

Sharapova’s opponent in the final will be the winner of Thursday night’s match between five-time champion Serena Williams and defending champ Agnieszka Radwanska.

On a sunny, mild afternoon, Sharapova won the first 10 points against the No. 22-seeded Jankovic and hardly let up from there. Sharapova committed only 10 unforced errors from the baseline in 88 points while breaking serve six times.

Jankovic was playing for the second time in under 18 hours, and she was repeatedly a step late trying to reach Sharapova’s shots.

The rout came 24 hours after Sharapova’s sloppy quarterfinal win over Sara Errani, when she had 57 unforced errors, including 13 double-faults. She double-faulted only three times against Jankovic.

“I just really thought I needed to step it up from my last match and play a little better,” she said. “I was really happy with the way I focused.”

Sharapova lost the Miami final to Kim Clijsters in 2005, Svetlana Kuznetsova in ’06, Victoria Azarenka in ’11 and Radwanska last year.

Sharapova took the Indian Wells title two weeks ago and has won 22 consecutive sets, a career best, while winning 11 matches in a row. She’s bidding to become the third woman to win Indian Wells and Key Biscayne in the same year. Steffi Graf did it in 1994 and 1996, and Clijsters won both in 2005.


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