Sharapova into Sony Open final

Tennis player Maria Sharapova. Picture: AFP.

MIAMI - Britain's Andy Murray moved into the semi-finals of the Sony Open with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Croatia's Marin Cilic on Thursday to set up a meeting with Richard Gasquet or Tomas Berdych in the last four.

In the women's draw, Russia's Maria Sharapova demolished Serbia's Jelena Jankovic 6-2 6-1 to book her place in the final of the Sony Open, one of the few titles missing from her CV.

The second-seeded Murray fought back from a break down twice in the first set and then grafted his way through the second to deal with the tall Croat.

"It was a tough, tough match. Second set especially was a lot of long, long games and tough points," said Murray.

"I just managed to come through that. Obviously I took a while to get to the finish line but I thought I played a solid match with not too many errors and was tough in the important moments," he told reporters.

The U.S. Open champion is the highest seeded player left in the men's draw after world number one Novak Djokovic lost to Tommy Haas and will leapfrog Roger Federer to second place in the world rankings if he wins the title.

"I'd like to get to number two this week. It would be nice, but I'd rather focus on trying to win my matches," said the Scotsman.

Sharapova, an impressive winner at this month's Indian Wells event in California, extended her winning streak to 11 matches with a lopsided win in just over an hour against Jankovic, a former world number struggling to regain her best.

One of just 10 women who have won all four grand slams, Sharapova has been collecting titles all over the world but has never won the Sony Open, played in her home state of Florida, despite playing four previous finals.

"It would mean so much to me," she said in a courtside interview. "I love this city, it's the first city I landed in when I came to the United States as a little girl."

Sharapova's opponent in the final will be the winner of Thursday's second semi-final between world number one Serena Williams and Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, last year's Sony Open champion.