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Serena Williams targets Steffi Graf's record in Australian Open final

AFP logoAFP 30-01-2016
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Serena Williams will take aim at Steffi Graf's Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles on Saturday when she plays the Australian Open final against Germany's Angelique Kerber, who is hoping to pull off a major upset.

The world number one is the overwhelming favourite to win her seventh crown at Melbourne Park and match Graf's career Grand Slam haul, warning she is in even better form than last year when she won three major titles.

"I think I'm playing better. I know my practices are better. Hopefully I'm playing better," Williams said, adding that at 34 and with the clock ticking, she is making the most of every minute on court.

"I kind of relish every win and every final and every match now. I think maybe in the past I didn't as much. I was just like going through the motions.

"Even though I was super-excited, I just feel like now it's even more exciting."

Serena Williams celebrates after defeating Agnieszka Radwanska in her semi final match. © AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill Serena Williams celebrates after defeating Agnieszka Radwanska in her semi final match.

The American has been in imperious form at the season's opening Slam, easily dispatching the likes of Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska, but seventh seed Kerber is confident she can spring a surprise.

"She will go out there to win her next Grand Slam. I must be ready to take the challenge to play against the best player right now," said the German, ahead of her first Grand Slam final.

"She's the world number one, she's the champion, she's won everything. I have actually nothing to lose.

"But still I will go out there to try to challenge her, playing good tennis. I know that I won against her once, so I can beat her. But I must play my best I can play."

Germany's Angelique Kerber hits a return against Britain's Johanna Konta during their women's singles semi-final match on day eleven of the 2016 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2016 © AFP PHOTO Germany's Angelique Kerber hits a return against Britain's Johanna Konta during their women's singles semi-final match on day eleven of the 2016 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2016

Williams, the top seed, has a 5-1 record against Kerber and has won their last four matches, with her only loss against the German coming at Cincinnati in 2012.

The penultimate day of action will also see a new men's doubles champion, in a final which will immediately follow the women's title fight on Rod Laver Arena.

Brazil's Bruno Soares and his British partner Jamie Murray, brother of Andy, face off against Czech veteran Radek Stepanek and Canadian Daniel Nestor.

Both pairs are bidding to become the first doubles team to win a Grand Slam in their first major together since Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock at Wimbledon in 2014.

Whoever lifts the trophy, it will be the fifth straight year there has been a different doubles champion, with America's Bryan brothers the last team to successfully defend the title in 2011.

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