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Miami (AFP) – World number one Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the final of the Miami hardcourt tournament.

Williams extended her dominance over the fourth-seeded Russian and now leads their career head-to-head 16-2.

The American has won 15 straight matches against Sharapova, whose two victories in their rivalry came back in 2004.

In the final, Williams will be gunning for a second straight Miami crown and a seventh overall.

She’ll face the winner of Thursday night’s match between world number two Li Na of China and 10th-seeded Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova.

Li has won all six of her meetings with Cibulkova, including January’s Australian Open final and a quarter-final clash at Indian Wells this month.

For Sharapova it was another disappointing finish in Miami, where she has reached five finals but never lifted the trophy.

Andy Lyons

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