Lawn Tennis
Maria Sharapova Meets Ana Ivanovic At Australian Open
By Ken Miller, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Friday, January 25, 2008 7:58pm CST USA
Maria Sharapova Meets Ana Ivanovic In 
Australian Open Final,
Ana Ivanovic, Australian Open Women's Quarterfinals, Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic
Photo by Mark Baker/AP
Melbourne--( 5th seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia who overcame a tough draw in Melbourne Saturday (Friday night USA) in the women's final takes on 4th seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia for a chance at her third grand slam singles title.

In 2004 Sharapova won Wimbledon at the age of 17. In 2006 she won the US Open singles title.

"Maria has had a good tournament... beating Justine in two sets," said Ivanovic. "It's going to be definitely a very, very tough match."

Sharapova has not dropped a set in two weeks at the Australian Open and has lost only eight games in her last two matches. In the second round Sharapova surprised her critics by defeating former world number one Lindsay Davenport of the USA 6-1, 6-3.

The Russian posted two more equally impressive wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals defeating top seeded Justine Henin of Belgium 6-4, 6-0 and third seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-1 respectively.

Sharapova at 6' 2" tall at Melbourne is using her height to generate her most powerful groundstrokes seen since Wimbledon 2004.

Standing in her way will be Ana Ivanovic who is 8-1 this year, which includes a stunning quarterfinal Melbourne upset of 2007 Wimbledon champion Venus Williams of America 7-6(7-3), 6-4. Ivanovic also showed her fighting spirit with a combeback win over 9th seeded Czech Daniela Hantuchova 0-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Hantuchova after the match extended an icy handshake to Ivanovic due to what she felt was gamesmanship from Ivanovic during the match. Ivanovic's movement of her feet during preparation to return serves oftentimes produced loud shoe squeaks on the tennis court which Hantuchova said were bothersome and unneccesary.

Head to head Sharapova is tied with Ivanovic 2-2 with Sharapova winning their last meeting 6-1, 6-2 at last year's WTA Tour Championships.

Ivanovic must play her best tennis to stop Sharapova who is playing in devistating form. Ivanovic must also hope Maria will lower her level of play to allow her to attack and control more of the match. But if current form holds and Sharapova can continue to serve well, she should claim her third grand slam title in straight sets.

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