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Hradecka's resistance dries out in the second set, Serena through to Madrid final

At the Mutua Madrid Open, world No.105 Lucie Hradecka was enjoying the best tournament of her career, with landmark victories over defending champion and world No.4 Petra Kvitova in the second round and world No.5 Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals, her first Top 10 wins, and even in the semifinal against Serena Williams, which the Czech qualifier entered after spending a total of nine hours playing matches on the courts of Madrid this year, Hradecka went shoulder to shoulder with the American, before one double fault determined Serena as the winner of the first set, and soon after the match.

Both Hradecka and Williams are big and solid servers and that's what translated into this match. Only in her main draw matches, Hradecka hit 57 aces (Williams' score is 41)! Neither Hradecka nor Williams dropped serve in the first set. Serena did have two break points at 4-3, but Hradecka confidently saved both. Also, at 6-5 Serena earned two set points, but again Hradecka was strong. In the tiebreak Hradecka made a fatal double fault to hand Serena another chance to win the set, which the American used and from then on the match was absolutely hers. In the second set Hradecka won a total of just six points! Final score: 7-6(5) 6-0.

Williams is now 12-0 on clay this year, losing just one set in those 12 matches, and the player standing between her and her 41th WTA title is world No.1 Victoria Azarenka, who defeated third-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska for the sixth straight time this year, 6-2 6-4! (photo: © Neal Trousdale)

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