The women’s semifinals highlight Thursday’s play at the Sony Open in Miami, with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova looking to set up a dream final clash between the tournament’s top two seeds.
Standing in the way of Sharapova in the first match of the day will be former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic. Despite that elevated billing, Jankovic’s run to the last four in Miami is certainly a surprise after her struggles in recent years.
In truth, her draw has been fairly kind to the Serbian, with the 22nd seed not coming up against a single player ranked inside the top 10. Still, Jankovic deserves credit for disposing of 11th seed Nadia Petrova in straight sets before coming through a tough three-set battle with Italian Roberta Vinci.
Although, pushed in the quarterfinals by Sara Errani, Sharapova has backed up her title at Indian Wells with serene progress to the last four. The second seed holds a 6-1 head-to-head record against Jankovic and will be expected to power though her opponent’s defenses once again.
Later in the day, Williams may have a tougher time against fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska. Not only is a place in the final on the line for Williams, but she can also take outright possession of the record number of match wins in the tournament. She currently shares the honor with Steffi Graf on 59 victories.
Williams was tested against spirited Dominika Cibulkova earlier in the tournament as she lost the opening set, but was impressive in ousting Li Na in straight sets in the quarterfinals.
Radwanska’s passage to the semifinals has been even more testing having been pushed to three sets in her last three matches. She now faces the daunting challenge of attempting to deploy her shot-making skills to negate the fearsome power of Williams, having lost all four of the pair’s previous meetings.
Also in Miami on Thursday, the remaining men’s quarterfinals will take place. Andy Murray will be looking to take full advantage of the absences of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and the early exit of Novak Djokovic when he takes on Croatian Marin Cilic.
The second seed has comfortably come through the draw so far, without the loss of a set. Cilic, though, is likely to be on a high having defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round in two tiebreak sets. However, Murray holds a 7-1 edge in the pair’s previous meetings.
Beginning the evening session will be fourth seed Tomas Berdych’s meeting with talented Frenchman Richard Gasquet. Berdych came out on top when the pair met earlier this month in Indian Wells and will be aiming to reach his second-straight ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.
Gasquet, though, holds a 4-3 career advantage over Berdych.
Where to watch: Thursday’s play at the Sony Open in Miami will get underway at 1 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.