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Australian Open: Maria Sharapova playing in the wrong era

Another grand slam final, another loss to Serena Williams. Maria Sharapova left the Australian Open empty-handed on Saturday.

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Five grand slam titles.

That's enough to make anyone happy but there could have been so much more for Maria Sharapova had it not been for Serena Williams.

Sharapova's unwanted losing streak against the powerful American stretched to 16 matches following Saturday's straight-sets loss in the Australian Open final.

Of those 16 defeats, three of those have come in a grand slam decider - the 2007 and 2015 Australian Open finals, and the French Open showpiece in 2013 - after Sharapova pipped Williams to the Wimbledon crown in 2004.

And it may be a case of Sharapova conceding before taking to the court to face the 19-time grand slam champion, as former coach Michael Joyce revealed in 2013.

"Yuri [Sharapov] has told me a million times that Maria can't win a grand slam unless Serena loses, so I'm sure that rubs off on her," Joyce said, alluding to Sharapova's father and coach Yuri.

"Wimbledon 2004 was kind of fluke: Serena was tight as drum. Yuri has always been afraid of Williams."

Sharapova was resilient throughout the 6-4 7-6 (7-5) contest on centre court, though she was clearly overpowered by Williams.

Take Williams out of the equation and the 27-year-old Russian superstar may have been looking at her eighth career slam.

Not that she is disappointed by what she has achieved in the game so far.

"Yes, I haven't won against her many times, but if I'm getting to the stage of competing against someone like Serena, I'm doing something well," Sharapova told reporters afterwards on Saturday.

"I'm setting up a chance to try to beat her and it hasn't happened. I'm not just going to go home without giving it another chance. That's just not who I am and not who I was raised to be. I'm a competitor.

"If I'm getting to the finals of grand slams and setting myself up to play a match against Serena, I mean... I'm happy to be in that position.

"I love the competition. I love playing against the best, and at the moment she is."

But with Williams continuing to dominate women's tennis, Sharapova might be wishing she was born in another era.

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