Serena Williams powered past the fading Mirjana-Lucic Baroni 6-2, 6-1 in an incredibly one-sided semifinal, setting up a final date on Saturday with older sister Venus Williams, who, had to work hard to see off the challenge of CoCo Vandeweghe in the first semifinal.
The Croatian Baroni, enjoying a second wind to her career after personal problems had forced her to call time on professional tennis, was playing with her left leg heavily strapped and perhaps her lack of movement was a major factor that led to her heavy defeat.
Not to take anything away from 7-time Australian Open champion Serena, however, who broke her opponent twice in each set and never looked in any danger of missing out on making it yet another Williams final at a Grand Slam.
Serena, chasing her 23rd Grand Slam to take one her past Steffi Graf’s record, didn't need to move up the gears, consolidating her breaks with typically ruthless efficiency and never relinquished her iron grip on the match.
Baroni whose last made the top four at a slam when she lost the 1999 Wimbledon semifinal to Steffi Graff, was second best in every quarter against her American opponent, who despite publicly declaring prior to the tournament that she is ‘playing just for fun’, was all business at the Rod Laver Arena.
While Baroni had upset 3rd seed Agnieszka Radawanska in the third round and then 5th seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarters, she really struggled against Serena and the fact that the match finished inside an hour, pretty much tells the story.
Earlier in the day, Serena’s older sibling Venus had overcome the stiff challenge of fellow American Vandeweghe, ending the unranked 25-year-old’s dream run in a thrilling game that stretched to three sets with the veteran eventually overpowering the first-time semifinalist. Despite losing the first set in a tiebreak, the 36-year-old responded well, clinching the next two sets to make her first Gand Slam final in eight years.
Serena was the winner the last time the sisters met at the Australian Open final in 2003, taking the title after a hard-fought three set match, but can she lift the trophy one more time or will Venus take revenge for that defeat on Saturday?