Top-ranked Serena Williams moved within one victory of winning her fourth consecutive title this year. She'll face third-seeded Victoria...

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Williams extends winning streak

Top-ranked Serena Williams moved within one victory of winning her fourth consecutive title this year. She’ll face third-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the Italian Open final in Rome.

The American overcame an early break of her serve to ease past Romanian qualifier Simona Halep 6-3, 6-0 Saturday and extend her career-best winning run to 23 matches. Azarenka kept her concentration through two rain delays to beat Sara Errani of Italy 6-0, 7-5.

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In the men’s semifinals, Roger Federer of Switzerland held off a stiff challenge from Frenchman Benoit Paire 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Six-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal of Spain defeated Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4, a day after the Czech rallied to beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic.

Nadal holds a 19-10 edge head to head against Federer, but they have split their past four meetings.


Chargers, Freeney agree to 2-year deal

The San Diego Chargers agreed to a two-year deal with aging star pass-rusher Dwight Freeney that could be worth $13.35 million.

The deal to bring Freeney to the Chargers came four days after outside linebacker Melvin Ingram tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a padless practice.

Freeney is 33 and entering his 12th season. He will make $5.25 million this season.


Van Garderen leads

Leopold Konig of the Czech Republic won the seventh stage of the Tour of California in a mountaintop finish in Danville, and Tacoma native Tejay van Garderen finished third to keep the overall lead for the third straight day.

Van Garderen, a 24-year-old BMC rider, was 12 seconds back. He took the overall lead in the fifth stage and won the sixth stage.

Australia’s Michael Rogers of Saxo-Tinkoff finished fourth in the stage in the same time as van Garderen and remained second overall, 1:47 behind.


Coach K may return

to U.S. team

Mike Krzyzewski is no longer ruling out a return as coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s team. Though the Duke coach had repeatedly said he wouldn’t be back after last summer, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said they spoke about a week ago and there has been “movement” toward a return.


Switzerland beats U.S.

Reto Berra made 29 saves, and Nino Niederreiter, Julian Walker and Reto Suri scored to help Switzerland beat the United States 3-0 in the world championship semifinals in Stockholm. Switzerland will face Sweden in the final Sunday. Sweden beat Finland 3-0.


Mauro Santambrogio of Italy won the 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia in rain, wind and snow on a course in Bardonecchia that was changed because of avalanche threats. Countryman Vincenzo Nibali extended his overall lead to 1:26.

Lucas Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs) stopped Lamont Peterson (31-2-1, 16 KOs) in the third round in Atlantic City, N.J., in a nontitle matchup of junior-welterweight champions.

Shane Mosley (47-8-1) outpointed Mexico’s Pablo Cano (26-3-1) in Cancun to win for the first time in four years.

• Jamaica dominated the sprint races at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai, with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce winning the women’s 100 meters and Warren Weir capturing gold in the men’s 200.

Seattle Times news services