Serena Williams closed in on Margaret Court's all time record of Grand Slam titles after claiming her 19th victory, as she beat Maria Sharapova 6-3, 7-6 in the Australian Open final in Melbourne.
Williams' impressive head to head record against Sharapova, which stood at 17-2 in the American's favour, made her the favourite heading into the final, with Sharapova searching for a first victory over her since 2004, when the Russian was just 17.
The hoodoo looked likely to continue as Williams broke Sharapova's serve in the first game of the match, with the Russian netting tamely as Williams came out firing, praying on any early nerves from the number two seed.
With the American serving at 3-2 up, rain hit the showpiece occasion causing a delay in proceedings as the Rod Laver Arena's roof closed, but the momentum continued on the players return to court as Williams secured a double break.
As the match started to show signs of being a one-sided contest, with the number one seed continuing to strike the ball impressively, Sharapova reduced the arrears to 5-3, capitalising on a loose service game by Williams, which culminated in a double fault on break point.
The break only proved to be light relief for the Russian as Williams stormed back to reclaim the double break and win the first set 6-3, winning all four points on the Sharapova serve.
Williams could have been forgiven for thinking that her sixth Australian Open title was rapidly approaching, due to her one set advantage and the hold shes appears to have over her opponent.
Sharapova was able to show great mental fortitude to keep the opening stages of second set on serve, despite Williams bludgeoning the ball to all corners of the court.
The quality continued to improve, with Sharapova clinging onto her serve, saving several break points, including a match point to send the match to a tie-break.
Ultimately, the Russian was unable to hold back Williams' advances as despite saving a second match point, she could not resist a third and Williams secured her sixth Australian Open crown and 19th Grand Slam, sending her past Martina Navratilova's mark of 18 titles.
Elsewhere today, there was Italian success in the men's doubles as Simone Bolelli and
Fabio Fognini combined to defeat Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France, 6-4, 6-4.
It marked the first time an all-Italian pair had won a Grand Slam men's doubles title in over 50 years since Nicola Pietrangeli and Orlando Sirola did so at the 1959 French Open.
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