Williams seeking to join Graf with Australian Open win

Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:56am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Serena Williams is on course to match Steffi Graf's major haul in the Australian Open on Saturday, but German seventh seed Angelique Kerber will be hoping she can prevent the American from emulating her idol while carving her own piece of history.

The 34-year-old world number one is a raging hot favorite to beat the first-time finalist on Rod Laver Arena, a victory that would move the American to 22 grand slam singles titles, the same as Graf and a record for the Open era.

Australia's Margaret Court holds the overall record with 24.

Williams had the opportunity to join Graf last year at the U.S. Open, victory at which would have also given her a calendar year grand slam, the first since Graf in 1988.

Italy's Roberta Vinci, however, knocked out the world number one in the semi-finals, which also ended the American's year as she took a few months off to recover from injuries and deal with the mental anguish of having missed the calendar grand slam.

That loss in New York has obviously resonated in her preparations for Melbourne Park, where she has appeared completely focused since a testing first round clash with Italy's Camila Giorgi.

She has not dropped a set at all and conceded just 17 games since the Giorgi clash and battered the five-times grand slam champion Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-1 in the quarter-finals and fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0 6-4 in the semi-finals.

Both Sharapova and Radwanska said afterwards they felt that Williams was playing at a level above everyone else.   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. hits a shot during her semi-final match against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed