ISTANBUL - Maria Sharapova set up a blockbuster WTA Championships final against Serena Williams on Saturday with a crushing 6-4 6-2 win over world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.
Olympic, Wimbledon and US Open champion Williams had earlier eased into Sunday's title match with a 6-2 6-1 success against an exhausted Agnieszka Radwanska in a repeat of this summer's All England Club final.
"I have lost to Victoria a few times so I was happy to get the chance to play against her," said Sharapova.
"Against the world No.1, you have to run down every ball. She's No.1 for a reason so I had to be ready for every shot.
"It will be a difficult match against Serena. She's been on fire - she's the one to beat."
The Russian designed sensibly bold tactics to frustrate the heavy-hitting Azarenka, stuck to them bravely and executed them excellently. She hit 30 clean winners on a slow surface.
Azarenka, who had secured the year-end top ranking the day before with her win over Li Na, was unexpectedly subdued - perhaps hindered by a strained right thigh which she grasped several times.
Even Sharapova's sometimes variable serve was mostly functioning well, producing a high 72 per cent first delivery statistic and seven aces.
At the end, Sharapova looked more than usually excited, shrieking loudly and pumping her arms very hard - maybe because it avenged important grand-slam defeats in Melbourne and New York.