|Serena Williams celebrates after winning a point against Maria Sharapova during their women's quarter-final singles match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid May 11, 2012. (Andrea Comas/REUTERS)
MADRID, SPAIN - In a battle of former world No. 1s, Serena Williams whipped Maria Sharapova to reach the semifinals at the $5.190 million Madrid Open, a clay-court French Open tuneup. Current world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka also posted a quarterfinal victory on Friday.
The ninth-seeded Williams waltzed past the second-seeded Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in 1 hour, 19 minutes on the unusual blue clay at The Magic Box. The powerful American smacked 11 aces past Sharapova, who was sloppy on her serve with eight double faults while getting broken five times.
Williams swatted six aces and notched two early breaks in an easy first set, and the American assumed control in the second following a sixth double fault by her Russian counterpart, which made it 3-2 Williams, who then cruised from there.
The 30-year-old Williams, who's a perfect 11-0 on clay this year, also beat a fellow No. 1 here on Thursday in Caroline Wozniacki.
The 13-time major champion Williams is now 8-2 lifetime against Sharapova, including wins in their last seven meetings. Sharapova hasn't prevailed against the American great since a final at the 2004 WTA Championships. A then-teenaged Sharapova also shocked Williams in the '04 Wimbledon finale.
Sharapova was a clay-court titlist in Stuttgart two weeks ago after upsetting Azarenka in the final there.
The formidable Azarenka had to come from behind on Friday to beat eighth- seeded French Open champ Li Na of China 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Azarenka was last year's Madrid Open runner-up to Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
The Australian Open titlist Azarenka is now a brilliant 33-2 this year.
Azarenka's semifinal opponent on Saturday will be fourth-seeded world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska, who erased American qualifier Varvara Lepchenko 6-4, 6-4.
The high-flying Azarenka is already 5-0 against Radwanska this year and comfortably leads their all-time series 10-3. The Belarusian beat the Pole in a semifinal in Stuttgart last month.
This week's Madrid Open winner will earn $830,500.