The Roland Garros champion went into the semi-final having lost four of her last five meetings with the Belarusian, and she won the first set in a demanding 47 minutes.
Sharapova raced to the first four games of the second, with Azarenka mounting a comeback of sorts before the world number two completed the win to set up a final against Serena Williams.
“I have lost to Victoria a few times so I was happy to get the chance to play against her,” said Sharapova.
“Against the world number one, you have to run down every ball. She’s number one for a reason so I had to be ready for every shot.
She added: “It will be a difficult match against Serena. She’s been on fire, she’s the one to beat.”
Meanwhile, Azarenka conceded Sharapova deserved the victory, while the reigning Australian Open champion reflected on the past 12 months, with the Belarusian securing her end-year number one ranking with victory over Li Na on Friday.
“I’m not going to say I was the freshest today, but I also don’t want to make any excuses because that’s not really my type,” Azarenka said. “I give Maria all the credit today. She played really well and looks in great form. She deserved to win, 100%.
She added: “I’m really proud of what I’ve done the whole year.
“I started the year with No3 and I finished with No1, which in numbers doesn’t seem like a huge jump, but we all know in reality it’s a pretty big difference.
“I finished the year as a different person – maybe not different, but more mature, a much more mature person.
“I’m very proud of that too. The whole year was a lot of learning experience, trying new things and taking the whole journey with the good and a few bads – I didn’t have many. I cannot complain about this year.”
The current US Open champion Serena Williams was an emphatic 6-2 6-1 winner against Agnieszka Radwanska in 61 minutes to reach the Istanbul showpiece.
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BIOGRAPHY: Marcus Rashford