MIAMI, FL, USA - The winners came fast and furiously on Stadium court at the Sony Open Tennis on Thursday night as Serena Williams not only stormed past Agnieszka Radwanska and into the final, but also broke Steffi Graf's record for most match wins in the history of the Premier-level tournament.
Williams was powerful and precise in the 6-0 first set, winning 19 of her 26 points with winners and only committing seven unforced errors. Radwanska began settling into a serving rhythm in the second set, holding her first two service games, but Williams snuck a break out for a 4-2 lead and the pair kept holding serve until the No.1 seed eventually put the No.4 seed away fairly comfortably, 60 63.
The final numbers? Williams 40 winners and 21 unforced, Radwanska six winners and 12 unforced.
"It definitely felt really good today," Williams said in her post-match presser. "I kept my unforced errors rather low. On a couple shots out there I think I got pretty lucky, but I've been practicing really hard and it's all just paying off, so I don't know if it's luck. I don't believe in luck - I believe in hard work."
"Serena really had an answer for everything," Radwanska said. "The first set just went too quickly. In the second set I was really trying to make something happen, but she was playing too well. She served too well - it seemed like nearly three aces every game. I really couldn't do anything out there today.
"When Serena's playing like that, it really doesn't even matter who's on the other side of the net."
Williams now has 60 career match wins at the Sony Open Tennis, passing Graf's previous record of 59. If she wins her sixth Sony Open Tennis title on Saturday she will pass Graf's record of five titles.
Williams leads Sharapova in their head-to-head series, 11-2, and has won their last 10 meetings.
"Every match is a new match," Williams said. "I love playing her. I love seeing her on the opposite side. She just always brings out a good game. I like the challenge of playing someone who has made history and who is doing so well. Maybe that's it - I really just want to play well against a great player."
Sharapova is in top form, however - she has won 11 straight matches and 22 straight sets.
"She's playing awesome," Williams said. "I definitely expect a tough match. She's a great player. What else can you expect? She hasn't lost in a long time, so I have to be ready. One thing about her is she constantly improves. I actually learn a lot from her from that. Hopefully I can do the same as her."
Williams was asked if she felt Sharapova hated losing as much as she does. "I don't know anyone in life that hates losing more than I do," the American commented. "I'm not quite sure about that one. I feel like whether she wins or loses, she always has a great attitude about it - another thing I can really learn from her. But other than that I definitely think we're a little bit alike in a lot of things."
Williams was also asked whether she, Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka were starting to emerge as something of a 'Big Three' on the women's tour. "I definitely hope so," she said. "It's awesome how we are trying to be consistent. I think Maria is doing a stellar job with being consistent, and so is Victoria. Hopefully I can do like them and definitely keep up being consistent throughout the year.
"You know, it's good for men's tennis to have some good players that play really solid all the time. But we're not copying anyone. We're just - we're just doing the best we can out there, I think."