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Serena Williams books first final of 2020

 Serena Williams booked her spot in a first final of 2020, one of her biggest challengers at the Australian Open, Bianca Andreescu, made the decision to withdraw from the first Grand Slam of the season.

Williams is without a title since her 2017 Australian Open win – a touranment she won while eight weeks pregnant.

She has been beaten in all five of her finals – four of which came at Grand Slam level – since her return to the sport after becoming a mother, but few would bet against her ending that streak when she takes on compatriot Jessica Pegula in Auckland on Sunday.

Serena Williams stands alongside Bianca Andreescu after losing the US Open final
Andreescu beat Williams in the US Open final

Williams, 38, was at her explosive best in a 6-1 6-1 mauling of Amanda Anisimova – one of the brightest talents on the WTA Tour – crushing a teenager 20 years her junior.

‘I was definitely in the zone today,’ said Williams. ‘It was just one of those days.

‘I knew I was playing a really, really great player and an even better person so I knew I had to come out serious.

‘It feels good. I’ve been working really hard for a couple of years – my daughter’s only two – and I seem to be really hard on myself. But considering everything it’s really good.’

Williams will also contest the doubles final alongside close friend Caroline Wozniacki, but the Dane was denied a spot in the singles finale by Pegula, who won 3-6 6-4 6-0.

American pairing Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend await the two former world No. 1s after beating young compatriots Caty McNally and Cori “Coco” Gauff 6-1 7-5.

Bianca Andreescu waves goodbye to the WTA Finals

It’s been the ideal start to the season for Williams, who is stating her case to be viewed as the player to beat in Melbourne later this month.

Her chances of equalling Margaret Court’s 24-Slam record have been significantly boosted by the withdrawal by one of the WTA’s most in-form players Andreescu.

The Canadian beat Williams in the final of the US Open, but a knee injury has forced her out of what would be just her second main draw appearance at the Australian Open.

‘Hey guys, just wanted to give you a little update on my knee rehab after I got injured at the WTA finals in Shenzhen,’ Andreescu posted on Twitter.

My rehab is going well, I feel better and stronger every day but after discussing it with my team and following the recommendation of the doctors, the Australian Open is unfortunately too soon in my rehab process and I sadly will not be able to play in it this year.

‘It was a very tough decision to make as I love to play in Melbourne but I have to respect the recuperation plan for my knee and body. I can’t wait to come back to Aus soon.’

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