Friday, January 26, 2007

Serena: 6-1, 6-2, wow. Maria: 1-6, 2-6, oops.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Top-seeded Maria Sharapova ran into a force of nature in the Australian Open final -- Serena Williams, who entered the tournament two weeks ago as what seemed to be a washed up has-been, unseeded and ranked 81st in the world, although thought to be a potentially dangerous spoiler in the early rounds. Despite playing only three matches at a pre-Open warmup tournament after sitting out most of 2006, Serena seemed to grow stronger with each match and blew away the U.S. Open Champion, who will gain the #1 ranking Monday despite the loss.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Serena Williams won her eighth and most improbable Grand Slam title, overwhelming top-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-2 in the Australian Open on Saturday.

Only the second unseeded woman to win the Australian title in the Open era, Williams came into the tournament ranked No. 81 after spending most of last season on the sidelines because of a knee injury.

"I'm really enjoying this!" said Williams, who will jump to No. 14 next week.
A tough, gritty performance by a great champion.

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