ROME MASTERS

Serena Williams into all-US Rome final with Madison Keys

Williams claimed a straight-sets win over Irina-Camelia Begu and will face compatriot Keys, who swept past Spain's Garbiñe Muguruza.

Serena Williams into all-US Rome final with Madison Keys
TIZIANA FABI AFP

Serena Williams moved within sight of a fourth Rome Masters triumph when she brushed aside Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets in Saturday's semi-final to set up an all-American showdown with young compatriot Madison Keys.

Williams, who looks in fine form for the defence of her French Open title which begins next weekend, overpowered her Romanian opponent 6-4 6-1.

The world number one will now be a hot favourite to land the 70th career title of her storied career on Sunday when she faces the 24th-ranked Keys, who defeated Spain's Garbine Muguruza 7-6(5) 6-4 in the other semi-final.

Williams has looked vulnerable this season, has not competed for two months and pulled out of last week's tournament in Madrid with flu yet she demonstrated that she will still take some beating at Roland Garros despite playing only one claycourt tournament.

There were brief interruptions for rain on a dank, wet day but after Begu, ranked 35, had extended Williams in the opening set, the 34-year-old dismissed her challenge mercilessly in the second.

Muguruza reacts during her semi-final defeat to Keys.

Keys has been enjoying her best claycourt performance in Europe and caused a shock with her win over Wimbledon finalist Muguruza but beating Williams, who has won 15 successive matches against Americans, is a challenge of a very different magnitude.