2015 Australian Open Serena Williams counters Madison Keys' power to book final spot

Serena Williams set up an Australian Open final against Maria Sharapova, after beating Madison Keys in their Thursday semi-final.

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Serena Williams advanced to the Australian Open final, winning a semi-final shoot-out against Madison Keys on Thursday.

Top seed and five-time champion Williams won through 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 against maiden major semi-finalist Keys, who lacked no verve on the biggest stage of her blossoming career.

Williams booked a ticket to her sixth final at Melbourne Park, where she will meet Maria Sharapova in a rematch of the 2007 decider.

The first set was a serving exhibition - 37 of 78 points were unreturned serves, Williams responsible for 22 of them.

The second saw Williams break clear with two breaks of Keys' serve, although the 19-year-old made it tough for the 18-time major winner to finish the job - Williams needing nine match points.

Keys caused the first stir by breaking Williams and holding for a 2-0 lead but her first blink - a double fault, serving at 15-0 in the sixth game - saw the world number one swoop.

Keys followed her service blunder with another two unforced errors, and when she netted an attempted passing shot, Williams had levelled the set at 3-3.

A love hold saw Williams find her service groove - an ominous sign - but Keys bounced back from her previous wonky service game to make it 4-4, showing few signs of balking at the occasion.

At 5-5, Keys got aggressive on return - two blistering forehands helping her earn a 15-30 lead, and took a Williams service game to deuce for the first time in the match.

She did not extend on that pressure, with wild errors handing Williams a 6-5 buffer, but Keys had an easy hold to send the opener to a tie-break.

Williams pounced on a Keys second serve to take the first point against serve in the tie-break and lead 2-1, and the world number one reeled off four straight points on serve to move 6-3 up.

Keys saved two set points via aces but an unreturnable serve from Williams - a fitting end to a serve-dominated set - sealed the opener in 45 minutes.

The second got off to the worst possible start for Keys, broken to 30 after winning the first two points - giving her an uphill battle from the outset.

Keys' brave resistance was further quashed when she double faulted to hand Williams a 4-1 lead.

Staunch to the bitter end, Keys fought off no less than eight match points - but Williams inevitably advanced.

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