The homestretch of 2014 Sony Open Tennis starts with a scintillating rematch of last year's women's final as World No. 1 and 6-time Sony Open champion Serena Williams faces familiar foe Maria Sharapova in the women's semifinal starting at 1p.m. Thursday.
Williams has been in intractable form for most of the tournament, vanquishing opponents with her lethal serve and powerful groundstrokes as she's disposed of No. 5 Angelique Kerber, Coco Vanderweghe, Caroline Garcia and Yaroslova Shvedova in succession. Sharapova has had a bit more to do earlier in the tournament, being pushed to three sets against Kirsten Flipkens and Lucie Safarova, but rounding into form in her quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova.
The two Grand Slam winners will renew acquaintances at the Sony after last year's final in which Williams ran away with the title in the third after they split sets in the first two: 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
The night session begins with another World No. 1, Rafael Nadal, continuing his quest to take home his first-ever Sony Open win. The top-ranked Spaniard has barely broken a sweat so far losing only 9 games in the tournament, including a decisive victory over Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the second round. Nadal will face his toughest test so far when he takes on big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who has also yet to lose a set, in a men's quarterfinal.
Also on tap for Thursday is one of the surprises of the tournament, Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine, taking on No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych in a Day Session quarterfinal. Dolgopolov upset Nadal earlier in the month at Indian Wells and looks to continue his ascent in the men's game against Berdych, a former finalist at the Sony Open.
The last match of the day on the Stadium Court features powerful No. 10 seed Dominika Cibulkova taking on the winner of the 2 seed Li Na and 11 seed Carolina Wozniacki matchup to be played Wednesday night.