The “old” rivalry continued in the final of the Australian Open on Saturday where 33-year-old World No. 1 Serena Williams continued her dominance of 27-year-old Maria Sharapova, defeating the Russian 6-3, 7-6(5) to remain a perfect 6-0 in Aussie Open finals.
The carnage stats of the “rivalry:”
* Serena improved to 17-2 career against Sharapova
* The Russian hasn’t beaten Serena in 10 years
* Sharapova has lost 16 matches in a row to Serena
* Sharapova has lost the last 10 sets in a row
* Serena has denied Maria 3 Grand Slam titles in finals, an Olympic Gold and a WTA year-end championship in finals
* Serena is 5-1 vs. Maria in career Slam meetings
* Serena has won in 9 of the 10 years they have faced each other (2 losses in 2004)
It looked like it would be another Serena blowout when the American broke serve in the very first game, and broke again before closing out the first set 6-3 after a short rain delay.
In the second set both players took care of serve, with Sharapova fighting off a match point at 4-5. In the tiebreak Williams fought ahead 6-4 before Sharapova fought off yet another match point, but Serena wrapped up her 19th Grand Slam title with a booming ace.
She now stands alone at No. 2 on the all-time Slam title list behind Steffi Graf’s 22.
“Standing here with 19 majors is something I never thought would happen,” Williams said. “I went on the court with a ball, a racquet and a hope.”
Sharapova was congratulatory of Serena and the rivalry that has seen the two snipe at each other in the media and on social media, but it was all smiles and handshakes on Saturday.
“I’ve got to congratulate Serena on creating history and on playing some of her best tennis,” Sharapova said. “It’s an honor playing against her. I haven’t beaten her in a really long time, but I love it every time I step on the court to play her because she’s the best, and as a tennis player you want to play the best, so congratulations on such a great achievement.”
Sharapova fought off match points early in the tournament while Serena survived multiple three-setters, a sickness bug, and in the semifinals was tested in a first-time meeting with the bruising game of American teenager Madison Keys.
“I was not feeling great [during the fortnight],” Serena said. “Every time I didn’t feel great I started to feel better, and then the next day I got worse. There was a lot of ups and downs. So I just thought — you know, I was somehow still in the tournament and now I somehow have won.”
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