Serena Williams has overcome a sluggish start to forge past Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets and move into the final of the Indian Wells tennis tournament in California.
The world No.1 was 4-2 down in the opening set on Friday and not moving freely in their semi-final, before the American began to find her rhythm to claim four straight games and control of the battle to win 6-4 7-6 (7-1).
Williams continued her run in the second set to win the opening three games before her Polish opponent fought back.
Radwanska displayed the kind of tennis that will elevate her to No.2 in the world rankings on Monday, rallying to win the next three games to get the set back on serve.
The Pole even had a chance to win just her second career set against Williams when she broke the American to lead 6-5, but could not close out on serve.
Williams then snuffed out any hopes Radwanska had of claiming a first victory against the American, winning seven straight points to take the tiebreaker 7-1 and improve to 10-0 in their head-to-head battles.
“I think it was really good for me to have a match like that and I think that’s the reason Aga is doing so well, because she never gave up,” Williams told reporters.
“I was up so much in the second and she just came back and was determined more than ever, so it was really good to play well against her tonight.
“I could have played three sets but I figured I should at least do 1000 per cent right now. That’s what I tried to do.”
Williams improved to 23-1 at Indian Wells, where she won in 1999 and 2001, before taking a self-imposed 14-year exile from the event amid allegations of racial abuse from fans after sister Venus withdrew minutes before their semi-final showdown.
Some 15 years later, she is feeling the love.
“I had a lot of support, I heard a lot of ‘Go Serena’s’ and that was kind of cool,” Williams added.
“This year has been great. It feels so great to be supported. It’s been a great comeback here in Indian Wells, so I’m excited about that.”
Williams will play the winner of the second semi-final between Victoria Azarenka and Karolina Pliskova.