In the end, I suppose this is the one people want to see. #1 vs #2. Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova. The 2015 Australian Open women’s singles final will feature arguably the two highest profile female athletes in the world. Sharapova started off the semifinals by maintaining her perfect record (6-0) against Ekaterina Makarova. Serena followed by ending the Cinderella (for now) run of Madison Keys. I say “for now” because a case can be made that Madison has arrived at the upper echelon in women’s tennis and should no longer be a surprise deep in a tournament. But the very top of the mountain still belongs to Serena. She has a 16-2 record against Masha, which includes a still active streak of never losing to Sharapova for 10 years. Seemingly, all signs point to a Williams win. Frankly, I have no argument against it at this point other than to say that in sports anything can happen. Masha needs to prove she can turn what seems to be an irresistible tide against her. No talk. No moral victories. A win is the only thing that can turn this around. Until Serena clinched her berth in the final, Sharapova still had a mathematical chance at usurping the world #1 ranking. That shows just how close the two are as calculated by a computer. But if Serena extends her decade long win streak against Masha, it will show just how wide the gap between #1 and #2 really is. Serena wants Major singles title #19. Sharapova is looking for Major singles title #6. More importantly, Masha needs to win on Saturday if she is to be taken as a serious rival to Serena. Otherwise, the status quo of Serena on top of the mountain and everybody else still at the base continues unchanged.
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2 MARIA SHARAPOVA (won 6-3 6-2 vs 10 Ekaterina Makarova)
1 SERENA WILLIAMS (won 7-6 (5) 6-2 vs Madison Keys)