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Serena has superior record over Sharapova ahead of final

Five-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams will be hoping her past record against 2008 winner Maria Sharapova can take her to a total of 19 Grand Slam titles.

The American great boasts a terrific 16-2 head-to-head record over the Russian star, and has not lost to her in over a decade (in the WTA Championship final in Los Angeles in 2004). That is why she is the 2/5 odds-on favourite with Coral to win again.

Of Williams’ 16 victories against Sharapova, the last 15 of which have been in a row, 13 have been in straight sets, so back her at a more enticing 11/10 price to win 2-0 once more.

For Sharapova, who is a 2/1 chance to claim her second title here and sixth Grand Slam overall, it is understandably a daunting task. Ahead of the showdown, she spoke of Williams’ strengths.

“I think her power and her aggressiveness,” said the Russian, who beat compatriot Ekaterina Makarova in the semis. “That’s always made me a bit too aggressive, maybe going for a little bit more than I had to. She’s great at making players hit that shot that you don’t necessarily have to go for, maybe going for a little too much, going on the line.

“It’s been a really difficult matchup for me, but I am a competitor. I will go out and I will do everything I can to try to change that result around,” Sharapova added. “I think my confidence should be pretty high going into a final of a Grand Slam, no matter who I’m facing and whether I’ve had a terrible record, to say the least, against someone.

“It doesn’t matter. I got there for a reason. I belong in that spot. I will do everything I can to get the title.”

Sharapova has arguably been in better form at this tournament this year too, having dropped just one set (Williams has lost two), and her upcoming American opponent came into the Australian Open having just recovered from illness.

The Russian, who is also an American citizen, happened to win her first Grand Slam title as a 17-year-old against Williams way back in 2004, and in straight sets. She is can be backed at an enticing 4/1 price for a 2-0 victory again.

But Williams has triumphed in both Australian Open meetings, including the 2007 final. One of those encounters, a semi-final in 2005, was a thrilling 2-6 7-5 8-6 result in the American’s favour, and she is a more probable 11/4 shout to win 2-1.

On Sharapova, Williams 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 it’s a new match. She has nothing to lose, once again. She has only things to gain. And I feel that way too.”