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Serena Sends Sharapova Packing At Sony Open

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Serena Williams of the USA returns the ball against Caroline Garcia of France during their match on day 6 of the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 22, 2014 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Serena Williams of the USA returns the ball against Caroline Garcia of France during their match on day 6 of the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 22, 2014 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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KEY BISCAYNE (CBSMiami/AP) — At this point, if Maria Sharapova is matched up with Serena Williams at a tournament, bet on Serena.

Williams beat Sharapova for the 15th consecutive time Thursday, rallying in both sets to win in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 in the Sony Open semifinals.

Williams, seeking a record seventh Key Biscayne title, improved to 16-2 against Sharapova and hasn’t lost to her favorite foil since 2004.

The No. 1-ranked Williams won with a superior serve and better returns. She hit nine aces and broke five times, which helped her rebound from deficits of 4-1 in the first set and 2-0 in the second.

Williams earned her 14th consecutive victory against a top-10 player. Her opponent in Saturday’s final will be the winner of the semifinal Thursday night between reigning Australian Open champion Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova.

Williams first won Key Biscayne in 2002 and is the defending champion. She has worn Miami Dolphins orange and turquoise throughout the tournament and considers it her home event because she lives 90 minutes up Interstate 95.

There was no evidence of a home-court advantage at the start, when Williams failed to convert four early break-point chances and fell behind. Sharapova cracked a succession of winners from the baseline and earned applause from Williams after besting her in one exchange.

But Williams broke back when Sharapova committed three consecutive backhand errors, and gained momentum from there, sweeping the final five games of the first set.

The story was similar in the second set, and after falling behind, Williams resorted to her dominating power. She quickly won one game with two aces and two service winners during a stretch when she swept 11 consecutive points.

Sharapova committed groundstroke errors on the final three points, and a victorious Williams trotted to the net, her left fist leading the way. She has more victories against Sharapova than against any other opponent.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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