The top two seeds will meet in the 2015 Australian Open final, after No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 2 Maria Sharapova prevailed in semifinal action on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
Down a break in the first set, Williams rebounded to beat 19-year-old upstart Madison Keys 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, reaching her first Australian Open final since winning the tournament in 2010. Williams, a five-time winner of the Australian Open (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010), has 18 grand slam singles titles in her career.
Williams ended the impressive run for Keys, who advanced past the third round in a grand slam for the first time in her career. Keys, under the tutelage of new coach Lindsay Davenport — who lost to Williams in the 2005 Australian Open final 10 years ago to the day — beat No. 4 Petra Kvitova in straight sets in the third round and then, despite a leg injury, beat No. 18 Venus Williams in three sets in the quarterfinals.
Keys fought off eight match points in the second set before finally succumbing.
Sharapova beat No. 10 seed and fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2 in Thursday’s first semifinal action, on Wednesday evening Eastern time.
It is the first Australian Open final since 2012 for Sharapova, who is seeking her sixth grand slam title. She won the crown down under in 2008.
“It’s been a strange road to the final, but I’m happy to be here,” Sharapova said after her semifinal victory. “Like every athlete, you question when you’re going to be back, how and at at what level. I just hoped one day I would experience it again.”
Sharapova had three aces against Marakova, and won a phenomenal 26-of-32 (81.3 percent) of points on her first serve. Sharapova has lost only one set in the tournament, and has only dropped 15 games in her last four matches.
Williams is 16-2 all-time against Sharapova, including 15 straight victories. The last time Sharapova beat Williams was in 2004, with Williams dropping only three sets to Sharapova in the last 11 years. This will be the fourth grand slam final meeting between the two stars. Sharapova beat Williams to capture the 2004 WImbledon title, her first grand slam championship. Williams prevailed in the 2007 Australian Open final and in the 2013 French Open final at Roland Garros.