sport

Serena to face Sharapova

Serena Williams recorded a 6-3 6-3 win over Dominika Cibulkova to set up a semi-final showdown with Maria Sharapova at the Brisbane International.

The top seed did not lose a single point on serve in the first set as she moved into an early lead before wrapping up the victory in just over an hour.

Sharapova, in contrast, was pushed to the limit as she recovered from an error-strewn opening set to battle to a 4-6 6-3 6-2 win over Kaia Kanepi.

On Friday the Russian will bid to end her dismal run against rival Williams, who has won the last 13 times the pair have met.

"Some of the matches were a bit closer than others," Sharapova said of her losing run.

"I know I've tried and I didn't succeed in the last many times that I've played her, but I'm setting up an opportunity to go out there and try to change that, and I'm going to try to do that."

World No 1 Williams says she had tried to improve her serve during the off-season but was still surprised it was perfect in the first set.

"She (Cibulkova) was returning really well, she stays so low to the ground and does so many good things, especially off the ground. She's just so powerful," Williams said.

"So of all the opponents, I definitely wouldn't expect it against her. But I was able to serve really well today."