Serena Williams hits a return shot to Simona Halep during their semifinal… (Andrew Medichini / Associated…)
A week out from the French Open, Serena Williams is one victory away from winning her fourth straight tournament.
The top-ranked American overcame an early break of her serve to ease past Romanian qualifier Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-0, Saturday and reach the Italian Open final in Rome, extending her career-best winning run to 23 matches.
Williams is coming off consecutive titles in Miami, Charleston and Madrid.
In Sunday's final, Williams will face third-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who kept her concentration through two rain delays to beat seventh-seeded Sara Errani, 6-0, 7-5.
On the men's side, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open final Sunday.
In the semifinals at the Foro Italico, Federer held off a stiff challenge from Frenchman Benoit Paire, 7-6 (5), 6-4. Six-time Rome champion Nadal defeated sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, 6-2, 6-4, a day after Berdych rallied to beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
It will mark Nadal's eighth consecutive final since his return earlier this year from a seven-month layoff because of a left knee injury. As for Federer, who recently returned from a seven-week break from the circuit, it will be his first final of the year.
David Beckham takes a final bow
David Beckham hugged his teammates with tears in his eyes, then walked off the pitch to a standing ovation — for the last time in front of a home crowd at a soccer game.
A clearly emotional Beckham was mobbed by his Paris Saint-Germain teammates on the field in Paris when Coach Carlo Ancelotti decided to substitute him in the 81st minute of a 3-1 win over Brest on Saturday, giving him a customary send-off in his last ever home game before retiring. Even goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu ran out to congratulate the former England captain on his career, while Brazil winger Lucas bowed in reverence.
As the crowd rising to its feet — including former French President Nicolas Sarkozy — Beckham applauded in return as he walked off the pitch slowly before being replaced by Ezequiel Lavezzi.
With PSG already having clinched the French league title, Beckham announced Thursday that he is retiring at the end of the season. He has yet to say whether he intends to play in PSG's last game away against Lorient on May 26.
While Zlatan Ibrahimovic again was PSG's main figure on the field, scoring twice, this game was Beckham's moment from the start.
He was given the captain's armband for the first time since joining the team on the last day of the January transfer window, and was given a rousing reception at Parc des Princes before the game, with fans breaking out into chants of "Merci, David" when his name was read out over the stadium speaker.
He showed he can still contribute on the field as well, setting up midfielder Blaise Matuidi for 2-0 with a well-taken corner kick in the 31st minute.
And when it came time to leave the pitch, chants of "Dav-eed Beckham, Dav-eed Beckham" broke out among the French fans — who rarely embrace anything English — while the entire PSG trotted over to give him a hug. Even Brest's Charlison Benschop — who had scored the team's consolation goal a minute earlier — walked over to shake his hand.
After blowing a kiss to wife Victoria and his children in the stands as he walked off, there was time for one more hug — this one a bit longer from Ancelotti — before he sat down on the bench, maybe for the last time.
Keegan Bradley overcame two early bogeys and maintained his lead at the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas, with a two-under 68 in the third round.
Bradley had a 13-under 197 total for a one-stroke lead over Sang-Moon Bae and two-shot advantage over Tom Gillis. Bae shot a 66 and Gillis a 67.
Chella Choi shot her second straight six-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Jessica Korda and Anna Nordqvist, the Swede who broke the course record with a 61 in the third round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in Alabama.
Hall of Famer Karrie Webb was two strokes back after a 69.
Graeme McDowell reached the semifinals of the World Match Play Championship after knocking out defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts, whose day include the bizarre moment of taking a penalty drop inside a restroom.
McDowell rallied from an early deficit to win, 2 and 1, over his European Ryder Cup teammate on the oceanside Thracian Cliffs course in Kavarna, Bulgaria, and will next face Branden Grace of South Africa, who beat Chris Wood of England, 2 and 1. The other semifinal will pit Thomas Aiken of South Africa against Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee.
Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter bested IndyCar racing's big-name teams by claiming his first Indianapolis 500 pole Saturday during the "Fast Nine" qualifying session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter's four-lap average in the No. 20 Chevrolet was 228.762 mph.