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Sharapova & Williams set up final showdown in Australia

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Maria Sharapova of Russia serves to compatriot Ekaterina Makarova during their women's singles semi-final match

Maria Sharapova of Russia serves to compatriot Ekaterina Makarova during their women's singles semi-final match

REUTERS

Maria Sharapova of Russia serves to compatriot Ekaterina Makarova during their women's singles semi-final match

The sporting world's most one-sided rivalry will be resumed in the Australian Open women's singles final, after both Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams eliminated their lesser-known opponents in straight sets.

The series has been a near-total wipeout for Sharapova, who famously beat Williams as a naive 17-year-old in the 2004 Wimbledon final, but has lost their last 15 match-ups.

Is it technical? Is it psychological? Either way, these two queens of the court show little warmth towards each other, and even less since the imbroglio at Wimbledon 18 months ago where they started taking pot shots at each other's partners.

Williams made reference to Sharapova's boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov as "the guy with the black heart", whereupon Sharapova painted her old foe as a marriage-wrecker on account of her close relationship with coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Sharapova looked in fine fettle as she swept past fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2 with barely a hitch, while Williams had to work harder to beat 19-year-old Madison Keys 7-6, 6-2.

Irish Independent