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Williams books Sharapova Brisbane semi

By AAP .
2 January 2014 06:10PM EST

WHAT was supposed to be an Australian Open warm-up turned into the ultimate grudge match after Serena Williams booked a Brisbane International semi-final against arch rival Maria Sharapova on Thursday.

World No.1 Williams breezed past Slovakian ninth seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-3 in just over an hour.

In contrast, four time grand slam champion Sharapova needed two hours to finally subdue Estonian Kaia Kanepi 4-6 6-3 6-2 in their scrappy quarter-final.

It booked the next round in their sometimes bitter rivalry.

Relations reached an all time low ahead of Wimbledon 2013 when Sharapova responded to Williams' chip at her in a magazine interview.

The American was believed to have made an unfavourable comment about Sharapova's relationship with Grigor Dimitrov, reportedly Williams' rumoured ex.

"If she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it," Williams said.

Sharapova did not miss with her retort.

"Maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend ... (who) was married and is getting a divorce and has kids," she said pre-Wimbledon, referring to Williams' married coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Sharapova will need to be in similar form on-court against Williams if she is to break a horror run against the 17-time grand slam champion.

She has a 2-14 record against Williams but has lost the last 13 clashes, and last savoured victory in 2004.

Her drought does not look like breaking based on Thursday's evidence.

Sharapova made 33 unforced errors against Kanepi - 17 in the first set alone.

Williams was a picture of perfection however - not conceding a point from her serve in the first set.

Sharapova launched into her trademark screams on each point but little else resembled the world No.4 as she struggled to find her serving groove against the hard-hitting Kanepi.

In just her second match since August after being gifted a Brisbane quarterfinal berth due to Australian Ashley Barty's withdrawal, Sharapova faced her toughest assignment yet against world No.30 Kanepi.

No one held their serve in the first four games of the two-hour match as both mixed ugly unforced errors with thundering service returns.

Sharapova only held her serve twice amid a total of five breaks in the opening set.

The second began like the first with the pair trading breaks in the first two games before a Kanepi double fault gifted Sharapova a 4-2 lead and she didn't look back.

Sharapova broke again in the third game of the third to set up the win but she was left with plenty of homework to do ahead of her likely pre-Australian Open test against Williams.

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