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Serena, Sharapova clash for crown

ISTANBUL (AP) – Serena Williams cruised into the final of the WTA Championships by beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2, 6-1 Saturday and will play Maria Sharapova for her third title at the event.

Sharapova beat Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 in the second semifinal, a day after Azarenka had made sure of finishing the year as the top-ranked player.Sharapova will finish No. 2 even if she beats Williams in Sunday’s final.

Williams was never challenged by the fourth-ranked Radwanska apart from dropping serve in the fourth game of the first set.

Radwanska spent more than eight hours on court in her previous three matches, while Williams required less than five to win her three round-robin matches. The difference showed, although Williams did not think that was the case at the start of the match.

To reach the semifinals, Radwanska beat Sara Errani in a match that took 3 hours, 29 minutes – the longest best-of-three sets match in WTA Championships history.

Sharapova, who rose to No. 1 briefly after winning the French Open, clinched the match against Azarenka when she held to lead 5-1 in the second set after prevailing in a 15-minute game that went to nine deuces, the last one on a double-fault by Sharapova.

Azarenka ended her best year on a losing note but she became the first woman to reach the $7-million mark in prize money for a year.