Sharapova still haunted by Williams jinx

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  • Serena Williams
    Serena Williams
    American tennis player
  • Maria Sharapova
    Maria Sharapova
    Russian tennis player

Melbourne (AFP) - Maria Sharapova vowed Saturday to keep grinding away to break her jinx against Serena Williams, after she was beaten to the Australian Open title by a player who has won all 16 of their last encounters.

Despite being number two in the world, the Russian just cannot beat her bitter rival, with her winless streak going back a decade.

Williams' powerful serve made the difference on Saturday, with the 33-year-old blasting 18 aces to win her 19th Grand Slam 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) and consolidate her place among the game's legends.

Coming into the tournament the Russian also had the chance to topple Williams as world number one, but the opportunity also slipped from her grasp.

However, Sharapova said she was a fighter and would work hard to keep putting herself in the position to beat the intensely focused American.

"Yes, I haven't won against her many times, but if I'm getting to the stage of competing against someone like Serena, I'm doing something well," she said.

"I'm setting up a chance to try to beat her and it hasn't happened. I'm not just going to go home without giving it another chance.

"That's just not who I am and not who I was raised to be. I'm a competitor.

"If I'm getting to the finals of Grand Slams and setting myself up to play a match against Serena, I mean, maybe you're telling me I'm wrong, but I'm happy to be in that position.

"I love the competition. I love playing against the best, and at the moment she is."

- Tough to be the loser -

The first Australian final in a decade to feature the tournament's top two seeds was a one-sided affair in the opening set, although Sharapova rallied to make a contest of it in the second, displaying her renowned fighting qualities.

She held off a championship point at 5-4 in the second and another at 6-5 when it went to a tie-break before Williams won on her third attempt with an ace.

Sharapova admitted Williams' huge serve -- some of them fired down at 200 kph (166 mph) was key to her victory.

"That's one of her biggest strengths, her serve. Maybe it's something that has saved her in many matches, situations where you cannot get the racquet on the ball," she said.

"You have to let that go. And if you're able to get in the point somehow, make it a little bit easy for yourself -- I didn't feel that I had many of those chances to get in the point.

"When the games on her serve were 30-All, 40-30 or 15-30 a few times, she came up with really great serves."

Despite being outgunned, the 27-year-old, known for her steely composure on court, admitted it was tough to go home the loser without adding to her five Grand Slam titles.

"It's always tough getting to a final stage of an event where it's down to two players and you end up become the one that's going home with the smaller trophy, there's no doubt about it," she said

"No matter how you played, well or not, whatever the scoreline is, it's always tough. But it will be alright."

Sharapova, who at least improved on her 6-1, 6-2 capitulation to Williams in the 2007 final at Melbourne Park, said the venue was still special for her.

"I've had some of my best memories on this court and also some of my toughest losses as well, but that's the life of a tennis player," she said.

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