Williams marches through to Auckland final

Ben McKay
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New Zealand Tennis ASB Classic

Serena Williams celebrates after winning her semi-final against Amanda Anisimova in Auckland

Serena Williams will gun for her first title in three years on Sunday when she meets unheralded American Jessica Pegula in the Auckland's ASB Classic final.

Williams crushed semi-final opponent Amanda Anisimova in the American pair's first meeting on Saturday, winning 6-1 6-1 in 43 minutes.

Earlier on Saturday, Pegula ruined local hopes of a dream final between Williams and Caroline Wozniacki when she recovered to beat the Dane 3-6 6-4 6-0.

Pegula will need to play beyond her world ranking of 82 to cause another upset.

Anisimova, 20 years Williams' junior, said it was the happiest moment of her life when she won through to face her idol and 23-time major winner.

However, like many before her, she found the reality of being on court with the all-time great to be less enjoyable.

Williams struck winner after winner against the rising 18-year-old in a dominant display that puts her in good stead in Melbourne Park next week

She'll be chasing an elusive 24th major title.

"I was definitely in the zone today. It was just one of those days," Williams said.

"I've been working really hard. I tend to be really hard on myself. Considering everything, I'm doing pretty good."

Williams made just six unforced errors in the rout, striking 19 winners.

The 38-year-old has endured a run of five straight losses in finals - including a pair of defeats at Wimbledon and the US Open - since returning to the tour after the birth of her first daughter.

Her last title was the 2017 Australian Open, a tournament she won while pregnant with Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

"I've been in the zone a few times (recently). I played pretty well in New York just not in the final. Again in Wimbledon, just not in the final," she said.

"I'm getting there. It's just putting it together for the whole tournament.

"(The semi-final win) was very satisfying. I knew I was coming up against a really good player and I knew I had to step it up."

Williams will also play off for the doubles title on Sunday, pairing with her best friend on the WTA tour and retiring former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Wozniacki, who will leave professional tennis after the Australian Open, ran out of steam against Pegula.

"Caroline has had an amazing career and I know she's retiring, so I'm glad I got to play her," Pegula said.

"I had to step in and take my chances and trust my game."

Wozniacki is retiring after wanting to accomplish more off-court, including starting a family with husband and former NBA All-Star David Lee.