No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 3 Simona Halep will face off Thursday night for a spot in the Miami Open final. Williams advanced with a hard-fought 7-6, 1-6, 6-3 win over Sabine Lisicki, while Halep had an easier time against Sloane Stephens, racing to a 6-1, 3-0 lead before closing it out 6-1, 7-5. Andrea Petkovic and Carla Suarez-Navarro will square off in the other semifinal.
Women's semifinals preview
No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 3 Simona Halep (second night match)
It's a rematch of a match that, well, never happened. The two best players of the 2015 season were slated to meet for the first time two weeks ago in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open but Williams was forced to withdraw with a knee injury. Williams leads the head-to-head 4-1 but the two split their last two meetings, both of which happened in the span of a few days. Halep stunned Serena 6-0, 6-2 in group play at the WTA Finals while Williams avenged the loss with a 6-3, 6-0 win in the final.
Williams has won 16 consecutive matches and remains undefeated in 2015. The seven-time Miami Open champion and two-time defending champion didn't play her best against Lisicki in the quarterfinals, but Halep doesn't have the power to bother her on defense. Instead, Halep's defense will put pressure on Williams's offensive game. The American's serve has been inconsistent since winning the Australian Open, and if she continues to struggle on first serves she'll give Halep opportunities to break.
Halep, who leads the WTA with three titles this year, is trying to become just the third woman to complete the Indian Wells-Miami double (Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters). If she can beat Williams and go on to win the title, she will overtake Maria Sharapova and move up to the No. 2 ranking.
No. 10 Andrea Petkovic vs. No. 12 Carla Suarez-Navarro (Head-to-head: 2-2)
With the early loss of No. 2 Sharapova, the bottom half of the draw quickly opened up and it was Petkovic and Suarez-Navarro who took advantage. Suarez-Navarro cleared the way herself, beating No. 7 Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round 5-7. 6-0, 6-4 and No. 16 Williams in the quarterfinals 0-6, 6-1, 7-5. She's riding the confidence of an incredibly consistent start to the season, making the quarterfinals or better at seven of her eight tournaments.
Petkovic has been the primary beneficiary of Sharapova's upset loss to Daria Gavrilova. She is the only one of the four semifinalists who has not lost a set in the tournament, beating eighth seed Ekaterina Makarova and the streaking Karolina Pliskova. The winner of this match will be in the top 10 on Monday.