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Australian Open Finals Preview

January 26, 2007

Maria SharapovaThe Australian Open is reaching its final days, and the pairings for the singles finals have been determined. For the men, Roger Federer will meet up with Fernando Gonzalez, while Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova compete for the women's title.

In the semis, Federer took care of Andy Roddick with remarkable ease, 6-4, 6-0, and 6-2. That result was kind of shocking as Roddick was supposed to have closed the gap by combining his great serve game with an aggressive new style of coming to the net. That game-plan was courtesy of new coach, Jimmy Connors.

Instead, Federer owed his American counterpart with his precise passing shots, and his lack of unforced errors (12 all night). There is no denying that Federer is the far better player in this point of their careers, but the disparity shouldn't be as great as it is. It certainly lends credence to the idea that Federer is inside Roddick's head.

Top seeded Federer has not lost a set in his six matches in this tournament. He is looking to win his 10th major championship overall, and his third Australian Open. Last year, he beat Marco Baghdatis in a four-set final.

Federer's final opponent year, Gonzalez, came in as the 10th seed. Gonzalez dominated his semifinal match with Tommy Haas, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1. The speedy Gonzalez had only three unforced errors all match.

Gonzalez earlier knocked out second seed, Rafael Nadal, one of the few players on the tour who isn't in complete awe of Federer. This will be the first Grand Slam final for Gonzalez.

Federer is the heavy favorite at -800, while Gonzalez is +450.

The women's semi-finals may not have had the excitement of the men's, but it was close. Serena Williams advanced in straight sets over Nicole Vaidisova, 7-6, 6-4. It was her fourth straight win over an opponent ranked at least 16th in this tournament.

Ironically, Williams was unranked heading into the Australian Open, and just 81st in the world, after injuries kept her out of action for most of last year.

Williams is looking for her 8th major championship. She won the Australian Open in both 2003 and 2005, the latter being her only major win since the 2003 Wimbledon.

In the other semi-final match, Sharapova handled Kim Clijsters, 6-4, 6-2. Sharapova is a 19 year-old Russian who won Wimbledon in 2004 and the U.S. Open last year. She is the number one seed in this tournament, and she has blown through the competition after nearly losing to Camille Pin in the opening round.

Sharapova and Williams have split their previous four matches, with Williams winning the last meeting, at the 2005 Australian Open semis.

Sharapova is the favorite at -250, while Williams is +180.

For the latest Australian Open Finals odds, visit VIP.com


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