Archive for Thursday, January 27, 2005

Serena reaches Australian final

Former top-ranked player rallies past Sharapova

January 27, 2005


— Serena Williams saved three match points and beat Maria Sharapova, 2-6, 7-5, 8-6, today to advance to the women's final at the Australian Open.

Williams weathered a barrage of deep groundstrokes and shrieks in the first set and at the start of the second from the Wimbledon champion before picking up the pace on her serve and getting her forehand working.

The 17-year-old Sharapova, who defeated Williams in the Wimbledon final and in the season-ending WTA championship last season, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and again at 5-4 in the third.

The seventh-seeded Williams, who won the Australian Open in 2003 but couldn't defend the title last year because of an injured knee, has won 13 consecutive matches at Melbourne Park and is one match away from a seventh Grand Slam title.

Williams, a former No. 1-ranked player, saved three break points before holding in the 13th game of the third, setting up game point with her first serve-and-volley approach in 2 hours, 33 minutes.

She dropped to her knees and punched the air repeatedly when she set up two match points with a winner in the next game.

After finishing off the match with a backhand after 2:39, Williams leaped all the way to the net.

In 2003, Williams saved two match points in a semifinal against Kim Clijsters before reaching the final and beating her older sister, Venus, for the title.

Williams will face the winner of the later semifinal between top-ranked Lindsay Davenport and 19th-seeded Nathalie Dechy in Saturday's championship match.

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