Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova for the 15th time in a row to reach her ninth Sony Open Tennis final. Has she been to more finals at any other event? Read on...
WTA Staff

MIAMI, FL, USA - Serena Williams reached a personal best ninth Sony Open Tennis final, beating Maria Sharapova for the 15th time in a row in the semifinals of the Premier Mandatory stop.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Miami right here on!

For a while it looked like Sharapova was finally going to break her losing streak against Williams - she came out serving big and smacking her huge groundstrokes into the corners to build a 4-1 lead.

But the No.1-seeded Williams would have none of it. She started to unleash her own big serves and groundstrokes - as well as her trademark ability to go from defense to offense at the drop of a hat - to steal that set, 6-4, and she eventually put the No.4-seeded Sharapova away in straights, 64 63.

Both players displayed some impressive power in the match, but the numbers showed why Williams came out on top - she was just about even in her winners-to-errors differential (21 to 22 - including eight aces to two double faults) while Sharapova was -14 (15 to 29 - no aces and five doubles).

"I think she started out strong," Williams said. "I made some unforced errors, and I had a lot of chances to be up first game, and then had some chances to hold serve and chances to break again. So I think I definitely let myself down in the first three games, and then she just started playing better.

"But when I'm not playing well, or when I'm feeling lower energy, I know I can do better. That's always a plus. Especially during a match, sometimes I feel like, 'Okay, well, you can take it up a level.'"

"Despite my results against her, I still look forward to playing against Serena, because you learn so much from that type of level that she produces," Sharapova said of Williams. "She's an incredible champion. That's the reason she's at the top. She's accomplished a lot. Her tennis speaks for itself."

Williams already had more wins over Sharapova than anyone else in her career going into the match, with 15 - that's now 16. Next are Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka - she has 14 wins over both.

And while she clearly thrives against Sharapova, she also thrives in Miami - she is now through to her ninth career final at the Sony Open Tennis, more than any other event in her career. Williams' next-best tournaments in terms of finals reached are Wimbledon and the US Open - seven finals at each.

"That's pretty awesome - I didn't even realize!" Williams said when she was told about the finals stat in her on-court interview. "But I just love playing here in Miami. This is my home. I love you guys!"

Williams is 6-2 in her previous eight Sony Open Tennis finals, winning the title in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2013. Her two losses came in 1999 (to Venus Williams) and 2009 (to Azarenka).

Awaiting Williams in the final will be No.2 seed Li Na, who beat No.10 seed Dominika Cibulkova in the second semifinal, which was played under the lights in the night session (read more here).

Williams leads Li in their head-to-head series, 10-1, and has won their last nine meetings.