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Azarenka, Sharapova set for final

March 17, 2012 at 1:45 AM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif., March 17 (UPI) -- Victoria Azarenka extended the best start to a season on the WTA Tour in 15 years Friday by reaching the title match of the BNP Paribas Open.

Azarenka won her 22nd straight match to open the year, cruising past Angelique Kerber in the semifinals 6-4, 6-3. Kerber had saved a total of five match points in two matches to reach the semifinals, but could not deal with the world's No. 1 ranked player.

Azarenka will meet Maria Sharapova in the championship showdown after Sharapova won over Ana Ivanovic. Sharapova won the first set 6-4 and had lost the opening game of the second set when Ivanovic retired with an injury.

Azarenka has a 4-3 record against Sharapova, including a 6-3, 6-0 win over her in the finals of this year's Australian Open.

The 22-match winning streak to begin a year is the longest since Martina Hingis won her first 37 matches in 1997.

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