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History against Sharapova in final
30 Jan 2015 15:03
An Australian Open which has seen the end of some notable losing streaks will need to see another for Maria Sharapova to prevent Serena Williams creating more history in Melbourne.
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Tomas Berdych ended a 17-match losing streak against Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals and Andreas Seppi won his first match against Roger Federer at the 11th attempt to cause the shock of the tournament.
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And in the first Australian Open final between the top two seeds since 2004, Sharapova will look to end her 15-match losing sequence against Williams, which also stretches back almost 11 years.
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There is a ray of hope for Sharapova in the fact that Williams has been struggling with a cold and cough for several days, while the American was also pictured receiving treatment on her left ankle before cutting short a practice session on Friday morning.
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At 33 years and four months, Williams is the oldest Melbourne finalist in the Open era, eclipsing the record held by Chris Evert by three months, and a 19th grand slam title on Saturday would give her one more than Evert and Martina Navratilova. Steffi Graf holds the Open era record with 22.
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Asked why she had such a poor record against Williams, Sharapova said: "I think her power and her aggressiveness, I think that's always made me a little bit too aggressive, maybe going for a little bit more than I had to.
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"She's great at making players hit that shot that you don't necessarily have to go for, maybe going for a little too much, going on the line. It's been a really difficult match-up for me, but, you know, I am a competitor. I will go out and I will do everything I can to try to change that result around.
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"I think my confidence should be pretty high going into a final of a grand slam no matter who I'm facing and whether I've had a terrible record, to say the least, against someone. It doesn't matter. I got there for a reason. I belong in that spot. I will do everything I can to get the title."
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Reigning French Open champion Sharapova won the Australian Open in 2008 and has collected a total of five grand slam titles, while Williams has won all five finals she has contested in Melbourne, although the last of those was in 2010.
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Williams insists she will ignore her dominant record against Sharapova, who saved two match points in her second round match with Alexandra Panova but has not dropped a set and lost just 15 games since.
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"Maria is playing great," Williams said.
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"She's in the tournament only because she's a fighter and only because she refuses to give up. It's a new match. She has nothing to lose, once again. She has only things to gain.
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"And I feel that way, too. I've won this tournament several times. I don't have to go out there and have another title. I want it, but it's not life or death for me. I think that helps me relax. She absolutely has nothing to lose, and I have nothing to lose, so it will be fun.
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"I think my game matches up well against her. I love playing her. I think it's fun. I love her intensity. For whatever reason, I love playing. I just have the time of my life.
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"It's going to be important for me to get off to a good start, I think. With that being said, if not, I'm going to be ready to fight. I think she really wants this. I can see that she wants to do well. She wants to improve her game. She wants to take it to the next level. I have to know that she wants to win probably a lot."
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