Serena Williams' serve was the difference in the Australian Open final, runner-up Maria Sharapova claimed.
Maria Sharapova conceded she was comprehensively beaten in the serving stakes by Serena Williams in the Australian Open final.
Sharapova lost to Williams for a 16th consecutive time - a streak dating back to their semi-final at Melbourne Park in 2005 - the score reading 6-3 7-6 (7-5).
The second seed was simply outgunned by the Williams serve, which produced 18 aces.
Williams served at 65 per cent - of which Sharapova could only return just over half - in an imposing display of strength and precision by the world number one.
The Russian, meanwhile, served at 58 per cent and was broken three times to Williams' one.
Sharapova said her serve was her downfall at the key moment - the second-set tie-break.
"In the finish I definitely thought I could have put a few more serves in in the tie-breaker. [I was] giving her many looks on the second serve," Sharapova told a news conference.
"Even though they were good, deep second serves, she was ready, aggressive. She hit a couple of winners.
"Then some of the service games where I had 15-30 or 30-30, she came up with really big serves, ones I sometimes couldn't get my reach at.
"Those you just have to let go and keep going."
Sharapova said the Williams serve is a key factor behind her 19 major triumphs, a tally that leaves the American in outright second in the most grand slams won in the Open Era - behind only Steffi Graf (22).
"Well, look, that's one of her biggest strengths is her serve," Sharapova said.
"Maybe it's something that has saved her in many matches, situations where you cannot get the racquet on the ball.
"You have to let that go.
"And if you're able to get in the point somehow, make it a little bit easy for yourself... I didn't feel that I had many of those chances to get in the point."
Having lost 17 of 19 meetings with Williams, Sharapova said she doubted whether coming into the net will benefit her when they inevitably meet for contest number 20.
Sharapova varied up her play with the use of drop shots, but only leant on the tactic three times despite it bringing success every time.
"I think first you have to create the angles and you have to create the deep balls to get the short ball from her," the five-time major winner said.
"She gets many balls back. She not just gets them back, but she's a good defensive player as well. A lot of people talk about how aggressive she is.
"But she's able to create many angles, many deep shots off the defence.
"That's not always easy to come in on."