Williams downs Sharapova again

LONDON, July 9

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

The five-time 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 Garbine Muguruza of Spain in Saturday's final.

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' 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 No 1 Williams 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.

Earlier, Muguruza became the first Spanish woman in 19 years to reach the Wimbledon final with a rollercoaster 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win over Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska.

Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario was the last Spanish woman to make the final at the All England Club, while Conchita Martinez was the last champion in 1994. Muguruza had to endure some nervy moments before she secured her maiden Grand Slam final spot, seeing a 3-1 lead in the second disappear against the three-time semi-finalist Radwanska.

Muguruza, who has only one tour title to her name, then took victory with a power-packed flowing forehand, her 39th winner of the contest.