World number one Serena Williams beat four-time Grand Slam champion maria Sharapova 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) to advance into the Brisbane International final.
The win increases their career head-to-head to 15-2 in favour of the 32-year-old American, who has not lost to the Russian since 2004.
Fourth-ranked Sharapova missed much of the second half of 2013 to a shoulder injury. Sharapova, playing under the watchful eyes of her new coach Sven Groeneveld, subjected Williams to immense pressure in the second set of the match as attentions shifted from the duo’s verbal exchanges to strictly on-the-court business.
The 26-year-old returned Williams’ serves with pressure, breaking four times as the reigning French and US Opens champion landed just 40% of her trademark serves.
However, the groundstrokes worked for Williams in crucial moments of their first match-up of 2014.
At 3-1 down in the second-set, Williams upped her game with deep, powerful returning which helped her reclaim the break and recover a second for 4-4.
Sharapova saved a match point in the tie break but Williams eventually finished off with her seventh ace.
Earlier in the day, Victoria Azarenka overcame former world number one Jelena jankovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the other semi-finals.
Roger Federer beat Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 6-1to make the men’s last four.
Kei Nishikori of Japan will be up against home favourite Lleyton hewitt in the other semis.