Serena, Federer power into Brisbane final

Serena Williams to face Victoria Azarenka while Roger Federer takes on Lleyton Hewitt in the for the Brisbane title.

    Williams had not lost to Sharapova in the last 14 matches [AFP]
    Williams had not lost to Sharapova in the last 14 matches [AFP]

    Serena Williams and Roger Federer registered hard-fought wins to move into the final of the Brisbane International tournament.

    Williams extended her winning streak against Maria Sharapova to 14 matches with a 6-2, 7-6 win while Federer beat eight-seed Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 to set up the final against local hero Lleyton Hewitt.

    Williams will play second-seeded Victoria Azarenka in Saturday's final, and will be favoured to retain the title that kicked off her stunning 2013 season that included 78 wins from 82 matches and 11 titles.

    Meanwhile, Hewitt saw off second-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to set up a showdown against an old rival.

    Federer leads their head-to-head record 18-8, including 16 wins in their last 17 matches, and has 17 Grand Slam titles to
    Hewitt's two.

    Hewitt is coming back from long-term foot and toe injuries, is ranked in the 60s and is into his first final on home soil since losing the Australian Open decider to Marat Safin in 2005 - that last time he went beyond the semi-finals at a major.

    "We go back 17 years - our coaches back in the day were best friends,'' Federer said.

    "It's amazing we have a chance to play in Australia again - first time in a final here.''

    Hewitt handled the heat better than his Japanese opponent as the temperatures topped 40 C, and his grinding style paid dividends as the match extended to 2 ½ hours.

    "I love a battle,'' said Hewitt, who won the US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002 and spent 80 weeks at No. 1 before Federer assumed the top ranking and held onto it for four and a half years.

    "Mentally this is a major win to have come back and gone the distance.''

    SOURCE: AP


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