For the 19th time the two biggest names in women’s tennis, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, collide Saturday in Melbourne for the 2015 Australian Open title.
Serena leads her (un)rival 16-2 winning the last 15 since Maria won at the WTA Tour Championships over years ago in 2004. And she bids for her 6th Australian Open title and 19th overall which would move her past Martina Navratilova and Chrissie Evert.
Sharapova is trying to win her 6th Grand Slam, her second in the last year after the 2014 French Open.
Neither player lost a set in the last two rounds.
S.Williams vs. Sharapova marks the first Australian Open final between the No.1 and No.2 seeds since 2004, when No.1 Justine Henin d. No.2 Kim Clijsters. The Top 2 seeds have played in the final here 15 times in the Open Era, with the No.2 seed winning on eight occasions, and the top seed winning seven times
This is the fourth Grand Slam final between the World No.1 and No.2 ranked players since 2004, when it last happened at the Australian Open (No.1 Henin d. No.2 Clijsters); also at 2013 Roland Garros (No.1 S.Williams d. No.2 Sharapova) and 2013 US Open (No.1 S.Williams d. No.2 Azarenka).
S.Williams is the first American to reach the final of the Australian Open since she won her fifth title here in 2010; Sharapova was also the last Russian to appear in the final at Melbourne Park, finishing runner-up in 2012.
S.Williams is looking to build on her record haul of Australian Open titles. Serena has won five Australian Open singles titles – the last of them five years ago – the most in the Open Era ahead of Margaret Court, who won four Australian Open titles in the Open Era (11 overall).
Victory today would take S.Williams to 19 Grand Slam singles titles, moving her ahead of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who have won 18 major singles titles.
Sharapova saved two match points in her 2r tussle with Alexandra Panova. In the Open Era, four women (on five occasions) have won the Australian Open after saving match point: Monica Seles (1991), Jennifer Capriati (2002), S.Williams (2003 and 2005) and Li Na (2014)
Sharapova is playing her 10th Grand Slam final. The only other active players who’ve reached double figures for Grand Slam final appearances are S.Williams (playing her 23rd GS final today) and V.Williams (14, going 7-7)
Both finalists are unbeaten on the tour so far in 2015: Brisbane International champion Sharapova enters the final at 11-0 while Williams is 6-0 (although she did lose exhibition matches to Bouchard and A.Radwanska at Hopman Cup).
S.Williams is bidding for her 100th career win over Top 5 opponents (99-32) while No.2 ranked Sharapova is 7-13 lifetime vs. reigning world No.1s
Sharapova has won her last five tour finals played (last loss was in final at 2013 Roland Garros), while S.Williams has won her last 10 finals played, most recent runner-up finish coming at 2013 Cincinnati.
SATURDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
Rod Laver Arena 1:00pm Start Time
1. Junior Girls’ Singles – Final
Katie Swan (GBR) vs. Tereza Mihalikova (SVK)
2. Junior Boys’ Singles – Final
Roman Safiullin (RUS) vs. Seong-chan Hong (KOR)
Not Before: 7:30pm
3. Women’s Singles – Final
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
4. Men’s Doubles – Final
Simone Bolelli (ITA) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA)
Fabio Fognini (ITA) Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Serena Williams 4/9 v Maria Sharapova 11/4
WEATHERUNDERGROUND MELBOURNE FORECAST
A mix of clouds and sun with gusty winds. High near 70F. Winds SW at 20 to 30 mph.
ESPN has live coverage of the women’s final starting at 3:30am ET Saturday morning.
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