New year, same old rivalry for Williams and Sharapova

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova exchange handshakes following the American's victory at the 2013 French Open final.

Story highlights

  • Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova set to clash in Brisbane International semis
  • Williams holds 14-2 head-to-head advantage over the Russian
  • World no. 1 recalls moment in 2005 when 13-match unbroken winning sequence began
  • Sharapova and Williams traded verbal blows off court in 2013

They battled on and off court last year and now Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are locking horns at the earliest opportunity in 2014.

The world no. 1 will play Sharapova on Friday for a place in the final of the Brisbane International tournament after both women won through in their quarterfinal matches on Thursday.

The American was a 6-3 6-3 winner over Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova while the world no. 4 beat Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in three sets.

Williams won both the French and U.S. Open titles last year, but also made headlines for an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in June where she made some unflattering remarks about an unnamed player widely assumed to be Sharapova, calling her "boring" and criticizing her choice of boyfriend (Grigor Dimitrov).

Sharapova responded saying Williams should concentrate on tennis rather than taking sideswipes at the personal lives of her opponents.

Williams has won 14 of her 16 encounters against Sharapova and hasn't lost to the Russian in almost a decade.

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On Thursday, Williams recalled the moment the tide turned at the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2005 -- a match she won 8-6 in the third set after saving three match points.

"I remember a forehand inside out," Williams said. "I was down match point and I hit this winner and I didn't even blink.

"I hit the a winner and walked right to the other side and was ready for the next return as if it was just a 30-15 point."

Sharapova said her memory of the point was a little more sketchy and stressed the importance of looking forward.

"2005? Oh, my God, I can't go back that far," Sharapova said. "I don't have too much time to look back at '04. I have a lot of things going on in my life," Sharapova said.

"Some of the matches were a bit closer than others. When you go out on the court in a new time, you can't really rely on everything that happened in the past. You've got to start from scratch from the first point.

"Of course 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."

Whatever the outcome of Friday's match, both women will be looking to improve their recent form at the upcoming Australian Open which gets underway on January 13.

Williams, a five-time champion, last triumphed in Melbourne in 2010 while Sharapova's solitary success came in 2008.

Read more: Federer breezes through in Brisbane

Read more: Sleepy Serena skips New Year celebrations

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