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Serena Williams to take on Maria Sharapova Down Under

GRUDGE MATCH: Maria Sharapova, left, was runner-up to Serena Williams last year at Roland Garros (PA)

PERSONAL GRUDGES will be fought out on the court for all to see when Serena Williams faces arch rival Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals of the Brisbane International.

There is no love lost between the two women ever since both of them made thinly veiled criticisms of each other’s romantic lives.

In June last year, Williams, 32, appeared to call Sharapova’s boyfriend boring in an interview with Rolling Stone, which elicited an angry response from the 26-year-old former Wimbledon champion.

The Russian reacted by saying Williams should focus on commenting about her own reported relationship with coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Tensions between the pair were not eased last month when Sharapova implied she did not respect Williams off the court.

The world number one and four go head-to-head tomorrow (Jan 3), their first meeting since the personal feud broke out.

The Russian player has not beaten the American 17-time Grand Slam winner since 2004, and has lost 14 times over her career to Williams.

Speaking about her impending clash and rivalry with Williams, Sharapova said: “I think I got to win a few times in order to call it rivalry.

“I haven't had a lot of success against her in the past.

“It's the first tournament of the year. I came here wanting to play as many matches as I could and obviously wanting to play the best.”

Sharapova will have to produce some of her best tennis since coming back from injury to progress into the finals past Williams, who favourite to win.

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