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SHARAPOVA 4-6 3-6 - MATCH AND THREE-TIME SEASON-END CHAMPION! - A finish with true folourish as Williams mercilessly returns her way to a double break point for the title, swatting home the first attempt to complete the tournament win without dropping a single set!
SHARAPOVA 4-6 3-5 - Laboured stuff from Williams in the eighth of set two, and it leads to the first deuce on her serve. She powers home the first advantage, though, and the hold leaves her once again with two shots at the set - and this time, the championship.
SHARAPOVA 4-6 3-4 - Serena is pegged back from a point up twice until the third, forcing Maria to net at the end of the game's longest rally, sets up a break point. Sharapova's first serve is enough to rescue deuce (and almost certain defeat), and she takes deuce one to stay one break behind in the set.
SHARAPOVA 4-6 2-4 - For all Sharapova's technique at times, Serena remains more consistent and her service games at this juncture will be enough for the title. An efficient hold to love is polished offwith ace eight.
SHARAPOVA 4-6 2-3 - Serena is served up in the first point but one successful rally and possibly the return of the tournament later, it's 30-15. Sharapova forces her out twice to get the hold point, however, and Williams has no answer as the Russian secures another hold.
SHARAPOVA 4-6 1-3 - Two fantastic winners against serve from Sharapova put her 30-0 ahead but Williams replies by amping up the serve and forcing parity in short order. Picture-perfect forehand ends a rally with a hold point, which Serena converts to deny Sharapova a golden chance to finally break serve.
SHARAPOVA 4-6 1-2 - Cracking third game sees the two trade the onus all the way to a second deuce of the final, where momentum is on Sharapova's side and she forces Williams out and to net for her first game of the set. Still a set and a break down though.
SHARAPOVA 4-6 0-2 - The American recovers from having her first serve returned to bomb Sharapova with four straight to hold, capping the game with her seventh ace.
SHARAPOVA 4-6 0-1 - BREAK! - Sharapova begins set two with intent and takes her second ace so far to Serena's six. However, she eventually succumbs to Serena's forehand returns and Williams smashes home a break to 30.
SHARAPOVA 4-6 - SET! - Serena pretty much knew this was coming even in dropping game nine, and powers her way to a quick triple set point. She double faults one, however, and though she avoids another three double fault nightmare like against Li Na, she nets for 40-30 before FINALLY taking set one.
SHARAPOVA 4-5 - Sharapova pummels Williams with the serve, the only blemish coming the way of a successful challenge from Serena on the first of a triple hold point, but Maria responds immediately with her first ace to make certain. Nonetheless, she must now break serve for the first time to keep the set alive.
SHARAPOVA 3-5 - The Russian tucks in a neat forehand winner amidst a dogged game against serve, but it's business as usual for Williams who collects ace number five en route to a hold to 30. She now has two cracks at taking the opening set.
SHARAPOVA 3-4 - The ladies trade an out apiece for 15-15 though Sharapova unsuccessfully challenges again in the process, before a botched drop shot effort allows Serena to snatch the point. A lightning first serve and another cross-court winner give her the hold point but Williams returns with authority for our first deuce of the match. Sharapova escapes two break advantage points but needs three of her own to hold an epic seventh.
SHARAPOVA 2-4 - Sharapova returns Serena to start, mirroring the beginning of game five, but Williams answers back with a pair of consecutive aces before stretching Maria into firing out of bounds and capping the hold to 15 with a hat-trick of aces. That's four to Sharapova's zero so far in the final.
SHARAPOVA 2-3 - BREAK! - Williams returns the opening serve of the fifth and smashes home a rally to lead 30-0 against the grain, and after Sharapova pulls one back an out uses up a Russian challenge and leads to our first break point. It's a doubler but Serena needs just one to take the edge in the first set.
SHARAPOVA 2-2 - The first real rally of the match, three games in, sees Serena open the fourth with the point. Sharapova returns cross-court to level before Williams' 474th ace of the year and a double fault contrast for 30-30. Though it's the most competitive game so far, Serena serves up two rockets to hold once more.
SHARAPOVA 2-1 - Sharapova steps up her serve to match Williams with three unbearable launches at Williams, but an unforced error to Serena's only successful return of the third game scuppers the sweep. Nonetheless, Maria picks herself back up and powers home the hold to 15.
SHARAPOVA 1-1 - The French Open champion simply has no answer to Serena's ruthless first service game and is forced into four straight errors in a hold to love.
SHARAPOVA 1-0 - Williams is fierce from the get-go with her returns but only the first of four yields a point. And she has no answer at all to Sharapova's crisp hold point serve which seals the 15-game.
Sharapova wins the coin toss and atypically elects to serve first. And we are underway in the WTA Championship 2012 finals!
Today's winner will pocket over £1million, with the runner up pocketing a cool half mil approximately. Warm-ups are over and we are about to get underway...
Adesona Adewale (@wales7479): "I think Serena is a better player and she deserves the WTA Championship. Go Serena!"
As the players warm up, remember you can watch the action LIVE and in glooooorious HD on Eurosport. But be sure to stay by my side here online for some multi-screen action. Pretty please?
On Twitter, @mosfak has no doubt the Serena Steamroller(tm) will flatten another victim today: "No doubt in my mind that Williams is goin to win in Istanbul" - if you follow me @liamhappe you too can get your thoughts published!
The women have made their entrances onto the court with Sharapova getting a marginally larger reception. The action, game for game, is coming up NEXT!
Serena pre-match: "I'm happy to be here. My 2012 has been good no matter what happens today and I have everything to smile about. Sharapova: "It's really nice to be back in the final of this tournament. It was a great day for me yesterday but the finals are a new day and a new match."
Williams has won 11 straight matches against players ranked first or second at the time, last losing to a top-two female back in 2007 in the Stuttgart quarter-finals. She has not dropped a set so far in Istanbul though four of the last finals have required a third set.
Read our report of the two ladies' paths to the final here:
In the head to head, Serena has nine wins to Sharapova's two. Both wins for the Russian came in 2004: one in the Wimbledon final, the other the final of this very event eight years ago.
Good afternoon and welcome to Eurosport's LIVE matchcast as Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams contest the final of the 2012 WTA Championships. Want to get a prediction or comment published right here? Tweet it over to me @liamhappe
|Serena Williams||Maria Sharapova|
|Saginaw, MI||Place of birth||Nyagan|
|1.75 m||Height||1.88 m|
|70 kg||Weight||59 kg|