Victoria Azarenka sets up final with Maria Sharapova at Indian Wells

World number one Victoria Azarenka at Indian Wells
World number one Victoria Azarenka at Indian Wells

Victoria Azarenka extended her winning start to the year to 22 matches with a 6-4 6-3 semi-final win over Germany's Angelique Kerber at Indian Wells.

The world number one's WTA Tour run is the best start since Martina Hingis's 37-match unbeaten opening run in 1997.

The Belarusian faces Maria Sharapova, whose opponent Ana Ivanovic retired with a hip injury, in Sunday's final.

Russia's Sharapova, who lost to Azarenka in the Australian Open final, said: "I would love to get my revenge."

After clinching a sixth consecutive tournament final appearance, Azarenka said: "I am so excited. It's the first time for me to be in the final here. It's a great event and I love playing here."

Azarenka and Kerber both found their game disrupted by the breezy conditions and the second set was littered with service breaks, with the top seed breaking four times and the German twice.

The 22-year-old sealed victory by breaking her 18th-seeded opponent in the ninth game of the second set when Kerber hit a forehand long.

Azarenka added: "I really was impressed by the way Angelique was playing. She pushed me to raise my level and really dig to win that match."

Second seed Sharapova advanced to the final when Ivanovic was forced to retire with a left hip injury after losing the first set 6-4 and winning the opening game of the second.

"I hope it's nothing that's going to put me away from the court for too long because I feel physically very good," said the 15th seed, who was facing Sharapova for the first time since losing to her in the 2008 Australian Open final.

"I really felt like I have been playing my best tennis probably in a very, very long time. That's very encouraging."

Sharapova said: "It was unfortunate that it had to end this way. I thought towards the end of the first set we started playing high-quality tennis."

Ivanovic, 24, was scheduled to have an MRI scan on her hip on Saturday morning.

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