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Serena and Sharapova to renew rivalry

ESPN staff
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Maria Sharapova saw off 2012 Brisbane champion Kaia Kanepi © Getty Images
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Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are to renew their rivalry in the semi-finals of the Brisbane International.

Sharapova saw off 2012 Brisbane winner Kaia Kanepi 4-6 6-3 6-3 while defending champion Williams did not surrender a point on serve in the first set on her way to a 6-3 6-3 win over Dominika Cibulkova.

The rivalry has been a mostly one-sided affair in Williams' favour. The American is 14-2 against Sharapova and has a 13-match winning streak against her going back to the 2005 Australian Open semi-finals. Sharapova's most recent defeat at the hands of Williams came in last year's French Open final.

The pair also famously swapped insults regarding their romantic relationships ahead of Wimbledon last year. Sharapova was knocked out in the second round and only played one further match in 2013 as she recovered from a shoulder injury. In contrast, Williams made it a year to remember with 78 wins from 82 matches and 11 titles, including two majors.

And Williams hinted on Thursday there is no love lost between her and Sharapova. She said: "It's very difficult I think for anyone to be best buddies when you're so competitive."

Sharapova gave the impression in an interview with the New York Times last month that their relationship was still cold. On Thursday, the Russian said she had used the interview to "clear the air."

Asked how she would describe her rivalry with Williams now, Sharapova replied: "Well, I think I got to win a few times in order to call it rivalry."

"I haven't had a lot of success against her," she added. "It's the first tournament of the year. I came here wanting to play as many matches as I could and obviously wanting to play the best."

Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka needed 10 match points to see off the challenge of Stefanie Voegele, eventually winning 6-4 6-7(7) 6-1. "I made it 20 times harder than it needed to be," Azarenka admitted.

Azarenka will now face Jelena Jankovic in the last four. Jankovic defeated Angelique Kerber 6-7(8) 6-3 6-1.

In the men's doubles, Roger Federer and Nicolas Mahut defeated Grigor Dimitrov and Jeremy Chardy 7-6(3) 6-7(5) 11-9. Federer is now through to his first doubles semi-final since Indian Wells in 2011.

Elsewhere, Marius Copil beat Gilles Simon 7-5 6-3 in the men's singles and will meet Lleyton Hewitt, who overcame Feliciano Lopez 7-5 6-3.

Jeremy Chardy downed Nicolas Mahut 7-5 6-7(4) 6-3 while Kevin Anderson was forced to withdraw because of a stomach illness before his match against Australian wildcard Sam Groth.

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