Serena v Venus: 'Dream' Aussie Open family duel
Serena and Venus Williams swept through their last-four matches at the Australian Open yesterday, setting up a retro family final that will be their ninth meeting in a grand slam title decider.
It is eight years since the American sisters, who have a combined age of 71 and 29 slam titles between them, last faced each other across the net for one of the sport's four major prizes.
Younger sister Serena was at her brutal best on Rod Laver Arena as she brought an end to the dream run of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at Melbourne Park, thrashing the 34-year-old Croatian 6-2 6-1.
Venus, 36, had a much tougher time and needed to draw on the experience of 73 grand slam campaigns to rally from a set down for a 6-7 6-2 6-3 victory over compatriot Coco Vandeweghe.
Serena, who beat Venus in her older sister's only previous Australian Open final in 2003, does not expect sentiment to play a role in tomorrow's title decider either, but yesterday was all about family pride.
"For us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true," the 35-year-old Californian said.
"She's my toughest opponent, no one has ever beaten me as much as Venus has. I just feel like no matter what's happened we've both won.
"It is definitely 100% the best-case scenario that I could have ever dreamt of."
While Serena was finding her feet after four months out with a shoulder injury and Venus has ended a eight-year grand slam final drought, Lucic-Baroni's fairytale return from years in the tennis wilderness trumped them both.
The key to seven-times major champion Venus's victory was her ability to raise her game at decisive moments and she saved 12 of 13 break points she faced, seven in the second set alone.
"Everyone has their moment in the sun," Venus added. "Maybe mine has gone on a while but I'd like to keep that going. I got nothing else to do."