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Sharapova also has No 1 battle to fight

Three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova takes on debut finalist Victoria Azarenka today in a high-stakes battle for the Australian Open title and the top ranking.

Sharapova won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004, captured the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 but a nine-month injury lay-off with shoulder problems starting later that year saw her tumble.


On top down under: Maria Sharapova & Victoria Azarenka

Now she has the chance once again to top the rankings, with the winner of the final guaranteed to replace Caroline Wozniacki as No 1.

Azarenka's best performance has come at last year's Wimbledon, where she made the semis. But Sharapova said experience was not everything as last year's final at the All England Club showed when she lost out to Petra Kvitova, playing in her first grand slam title match. "Petra in her first Slam final, played high quality tennis then. Though Victoria hasn't been in that stage of a Grand Slam before, she's certainly won big titles and she has the experience," she said.

Women's doubles...
Meanwhile, unseeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva won the Australian Open women's doubles crown yesterday, coming from behind to beat Italian pair Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

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