'Surprised' Serena sets up dream Sharapova final

Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:52am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Serena Williams overcame feisty teenage challenger Madison Keys to set up a dream Australian Open final with Maria Sharapova on Thursday but seemed to be the only person surprised she had made it that far.

The world number one had to battle against Keys, considered the heir apparent as the queen of American womens' tennis, before she eventually overcame the 19-year-old 7-6(5) 6-2 to set up the final against the Russian.

Williams, a five times champion at Melbourne Park, however, felt she entered the tournament in a funk, having played badly at the Hopman Cup in Perth earlier this month and mindful she had crashed out to lower ranked players in the last three years.

"I didn't expect to get to the finals of this tournament when I first got here because I wasn't playing great," she said after she made her first Melbourne Park final since 2010.

"I didn't play well at Hopman. I was so off. I felt like I wasn't moving well. I just wasn't feeling great on the court.

"It's been so long since I've even been in a final here. I was kind of like, 'oh, let me just try' (and) my theory now is to relax and play the match as best as I can.

"When I step on the court and hear the announcer, I don't have to win anymore. I can just relax and have fun."

Fun may be the new mantra, but Williams did suffer some tense moments against her clean-hitting compatriot on Thursday.   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts after winning the first set against compatriot Madison Keys during their women's singles semi-final match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 29, 2015.   REUTERS/Issei Kato