Reuters) – Serena Williams advanced to her second straight final by beating fourth-seed Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-3 on Saturday at the Toronto Cup and declared her game was approaching its grand-slam winning best.
The former world number one, who returned to competition in June after 11 months out with injuries and health problems, will carry a 10-match winning streak into the final against Samantha Stosur and appears in ominous form ahead of the U.S. Open starting Aug. 29.
Williams, who won the Stanford Classic last month in her third tournament back, said her game was reaching her Wimbledon-winning form from last year.
“I feel it’s better today than it has been the past couple rounds but I feel it’s coming along,” Williams told reporters.
“I still can do better but overall I am almost where I was but I want to exceed that level.”
After spending over two hours on court and being forced to three sets in each of her last two matches, Williams simply overpowered Azarenka, who entered the semi-final having lost just six games in three matches.
The first set went with serve until Williams broke Azarenka in the sixth game with a cross-court winner that prompted the 13-times grand slam champion to pump her fist and belt out a loud “come on!” in front of an adoring crowd.
The players exchanged breaks over the next two games before Williams clinched the set with an ace. She remained in control the rest of the way, breaking Azarenka’s serve in the seventh and ninth game to take the match.
Stosur booked a spot in her second final of 2011 with a 6-2 5-7 6-2 win over Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, who came into the match riding a nine-match win streak and having not dropped a set all week.
The 27-year-old Australian, who lost to Maria Sharapova in the Italian Open final in May, broke her opponent twice during a dominant first set before letting the 13th seed back in.
But Stosur, who has been improving with each match of the tournament, hit back the swift third set which she capped off in style with her seventh ace of the day.
Williams has a 3-2 edge in head-to-head meetings with Stosur, but the Australian won their last match in their quarter-final at the 2010 French Open.