Serena Williams defeated Sara Errani of Italy 7-5, 6-2 on Saturday to reach the Madrid Open final. The victory means the World No. 1 is one match away from winning her 50th career title, against either second- seeded Maria Sharapova or Ana Ivanovic.
After a skittish start, William dominated Errani and broke her final service game in both sets.
“I feel I played solid,” Williams said. “In the second set more than in the first, I made a few less errors, which is something I needed to do.”
The defending champion improved to 5-0 against the seventh- ranked Errani and to 30-2 overall this year.
If Sharapova emerges winner of the second semifinal, Sunday’s final puts the No.1 ranking at stake and Williams is aware of the high stakes involved with either opponent.
“I feel the whole tournament I have only played clay- court opponents,” said Williams. “All have been smaller than me. Tomorrow (Sunday) will be a different game, more power.”
Earlier into the game, William misfired on three smashes in the first set, which she managed to pull out after falling behind 3-1.
The 15- time grand slam winner then started connecting with her serve and held two games to love, but she needed four points before finally breaking Errani with a forehand winner placed just inside the line to grab the lead.
Ahead with one set, William capitalized on her advantage and eased through the second.
Sunday’s final will be William’s first on red clay since 2002. Last year triumph at the Caja Magica came on the experimental blue clay that was replaced following players’ complaints it was too slippery.