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Serena - Sharapova to clash in Australian Open Final

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The top two ladies of women's tennis set up a dream showdown at the Australian Open Final as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova booked their spots in Saturday's finale at Melbourne Park with routine wins in their respective semi-final encounters today.

Both women were taking on compatriots, with Sharapova going up against fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the first semi. Neither player was at their best as they produced 55 unforced errors between them, but Sharapova's penchant for being able to play the big points better made all the difference as she broke Makarova four times to record a 6-3, 6-2 win.

Maria was virtually unplayable when she managed to land her first serve, and though she gifted Makarova quite a few free points courtesy of 7 double faults, the younger Russian wasn't quite able to capitalize on the opportunities that came her way, breaking Sharapova's serve just once all match.

Serena meanwhile was given a bitter more of a workout by 19 year old American Madison Keys, who came out all guns blazing and quite literally lived by the sword. The teenage sensation outhit Serena from the back of the court, no mean feat, producing 27 winners to Serena's 19. She also matched Serena serve for serve, producing 12 aces to Serena's 13, but her unforced error count got the better of her as she produced 39 unforced errors, way too high for a semi-final against a player of Serena's pedigree.

Serena advanced in the end on the back of a 7-6 (5), 6-2 scoreline and will be the favourite to add to her 5 singles titles here at the Australian Open, considering Sharapova hasn't beaten the American superstar in a decade. Serena has beaten Maria 15 straight times since a 17 year old Sharapova beat her in back to back matches at Wimbledon in 2004 and the WTA Championships the same year.

Their last encounter was at the Miami Masters last year where Serena won comfortably 6-4, 6-3.

Serena spoke about the upcoming final in her post match presser, and said, "Maria is playing great. She's in the tournament only because she's a fighter and only because she refuses to give up. So, yeah, it's a new match. She has nothing to lose, once again. She has only things to gain. And I feel that way, too. I feel I don't. 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 he relax. So, yeah, she absolutely has nothing to lose, and I have nothing to lose, so it will be fun."