Tennis: Five classic Serena v Sharapova matches

AFP , Wednesday 8 Jul 2015

Serena Williams will face Maria Sharapova in the Wimbledon semi-finals on Thursday

Here AFP Sport looks at five memorable encounters between the old rivals

2004 Wimbledon final, Sharapova won 6-1, 6-4

- Serena went into the most famous of the duo's 19 meetings as the two-time reigning Wimbledon champion and heavy favourite, while the 17-year-old Sharapova was appearing in her first major final in just her second year on the women's tour.

But Sharapova produced one of the great Wimbledon upsets as her ferocious ground-strokes rocked Serena, launching the Russian to global superstardom and establishing the roots of a bitter rivalry that still lingers to this day.

2004 WTA Championship final, Sharapova won 4-6, 6-2, 6-4

- Sharapova's second and most recent victory over Serena came a few months after her Wimbledon breakthrough in a dramatic three-setter in the prestigious end-of-year-event in Los Angeles.

Sharapova trailed 4-0 in the deciding set, but an ailing Williams was hampered by an abdominal problem that left her barely able to serve as the Russian won the last six games.

2005 Australian Open semi-final, Williams won 2-6, 7-5, 8-6

- A Melbourne match-up for the ages saw Sharapova on the verge of victory when she held three match points on her serve at 5-4 in the second set.

But, after losing her previous two meetings to the Russian, Serena refused to accept another defeat and fought back to win in three gruelling sets.

The American's recovery proved a significant turning point -- Serena has never lost another meeting with Sharapova.

2010 Wimbledon fourth round, Williams won 7-6 (11/9), 6-4

- On her way back from shoulder surgery that put her out for much of 2008 and 2009, Sharapova pushed the defending champion hard in the kind of feisty affair that has come to define their meetings.

Williams saved set points before serving an ace to take the first set and kept her nerve in second for a win that provided the catalyst for her second consecutive Wimbledon title.

2012 Olympic Games final, Serena won 6-0, 6-1

- Williams was at her muscular best on Wimbledon's Centre Court as she handed Sharapova one of the most humiliating losses of her career, blasting 10 aces and taking just 45 minutes to win her first singles gold medal.

It was sweet revenge for the 2004 loss at the same venue and Serena rubbed salt into Sharapova's wounds by claiming afterwards that she was disappointed to surrender even that solitary game in the second set.

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