Australian Open 2015: Sharapova, Serena win semifinal matches to set up blockbuster final
After 11 days of scintillating tennis action that saw many incredible matches, we have our two finalists in the women’s draw – World No. 1 Serena Williams and World No. 2 Maria Sharapova. Both women beat their compatriots in the semifinal today.
Note: You can watch the final live on Sony Liv Sports here.
Semifinal 1: Maria Sharapova thrashes compatriot Ekaterina Makarova
The No. 2 seed got off to a shaky start on her serve as Makarova attacked from the word go. Sharapova dug deep from 15-40 down to finally hold her serve after 10 minutes. She then put Makarova under pressure in the next service game and the 10th seed falied to withstand it, handing the early advantage to Sharapova.
The five-time Slam winner led 4-1 before the No. 10 seed broke Sharapova’s serve in the seventh game to get back on serve in the first set. But Sharapova struck right back, breaking Makarova’s serve and winning eight of the last nine points to wrap the first set in 48 minutes.
Makarova registered a sub-par 58% first serve percentage and committed 14 unforced errors in an erratic first set. Sharapova on the other hand committed 15 unforced errors, but hit 15 winners against just 5 by Makarova.
The second set was one-way traffic with Sharapova winning the first three games which included a double break of serve. There was no looking back for the 2008 champion as she won 93% points on her first serve and committed just 11 unforced errors. Makarova did not make use of two break point opportunities and struggled to win more than 55% points on her first serve.
Makarova had taken just one set from Sharapova in their five previous meetings and her performance today showed why. Sharapova played super-aggressive tennis and Makarova had no answer to that, failing to recover from the early setback in the opening set.
Match Result: Maria sharapova beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2.
Maria Sharapova, after saving match points in 2nd rd, is into the Aussie Open final—a "strange road," she says. Beats Makarova 3 & 2— Steve Tignor (@SteveTignor) January 29, 2015
Anybody else find it hard to believe that Sharapova is still just 27 years old?— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) January 29, 2015
#Sharapova “Like every athlete you question when ur going to be back, how & at what level. Just hoped one day I wld experience it again."— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2015
Semifinal 2: Serena Williams overcomes Madison Keys challenge
Madison Keys reached her first Grand Slam semifinal after beating Venus Williams in three tight sets. But she came into the match against Venus’ younger sister Serena Williams with a thigh injury that she sustained in the second set of the quarterfinals.
That did not seem to hamper the 19-year-old though as she broke in Williams’ first service game with some aggressive tennis. Williams was looking a little taken aback by her younger opponent’s power, and she could only break back later in the set to send the set to a tiebreak.
Keys saved two set points in the breaker, but it was Williams who converted on her third set point to lead by a set to love after 45 minutes. The young American committed 18 unforced errors against just 9 by Williams.
The second set wasn’t as close as the first one with Williams breaking Keys’ serve on two occasions. Keys won just 52% points on her first serve and failed to convert her two break point opportunities. Unforced errors hurt the young American as she committed 21 errors against Willaims’ 7.
Keys saved seven match points in a marathon seventh game, but Williams served an ace on her ninth match point opportunity to close out the match.
Match Result: Serena Williams beat Madison Keys 7-6 (5), 6-2.
Serena Williams is the oldest player to reach the final of the Aussie Open in the Open Era (previous: Chris Evert in 1988).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 29, 2015
Serena has won 15 in a row over Maria and is 18-4 in Grand Slam finals. A win there would move her ahead of Chrissie & Martina all-time.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 29, 2015
Serena Williams ...... in Grand Slams: 265-39 (87%) in #AusOpen : 67-9 (88%) Record in GS finals: 18-4 (82%)— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) January 29, 2015
Thank you for all the messages and thank you to everyone cheering me on. Too good from @serenawilliams today. Can't wait to be back