Sharapova: Past losses to Williams don't matter
SECOND seed Maria Sharapova insists her "terrible" record against archrival Serena Williams is irrelevant, after booking an Australian Open final showdown with the American top seed.
Sharapova, 27, looked every inch a five-time Grand Slam champion as she demolished fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2 to make the ninth Major final of her career.
But she will be facing an opponent in the decider who owns 18 Grand Slams and has a daunting 16-2 record over her. Sharapova's last victory against the world No. 1 came in 2004.
The reigning French Open champion said she would concentrate on her form during this year's tournament - she eliminated four seeds, including rising star Eugenie Bouchard, on her way to the final - rather than on past losses to Williams.
"My confidence should be pretty high going into a final of a Grand Slam, no matter who I'm facing and whether I've had a terrible record, to say the least, against someone," she said.
"It doesn't matter. I got there for a reason. I belong in that spot. I will do everything I can to get the title."
Quizzed on why her record against Williams was so poor, given her strength against other players on tour, Sharapova said she probably overreacted to the American's power and aggression.
"That's always made me a little bit too aggressive, maybe going for a little bit more than I had to," she said.
"She's great at making players hit that shot that you don't necessarily have to go for - maybe going for a little too much, going on the line.
"It's been a really difficult match-up for me, but I'm a competitor...I'll go out and do everything I can to try to (turn) that result around."
Sharapova's win over Makarova takes her into the Australian final for the fourth time - she won in 2008 but lost in 2012 and 2007, the latter a 6-1, 6-2 mauling by Williams.
She said playing 10th seed Makarova had given her a blueprint for dealing with players who went on the offensive as soon as they came out of the blocks.
"I knew she would come out and play really well," she said. "I was ready for that. It was important to stand my ground in the first few games, which I did well, even though I was behind, especially the first and second one.
"Those key moments are really important."
She will need to remember that lesson if she is to avoid another beating by Williams, who brushed aside the latest member of "Generation Next" trying to steal her crown by beating teenager Madison Keys 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 in the other semi-final.
Williams, who can move to a clear second in the list of all-time Open Era Grand Slam winners if she takes the title, was more concerned with praising her 19-year-old compatriot Keys after a ding-dong battle, than with predicting how she would fare against her old rival.
"She's obviously a great player, she's going to be winning this tournament very soon and lots of other Grand Slams," said Williams, who hugged Keys after the match.
Williams retains her world No. 1 ranking by reaching the final.