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Venus stands in way of Serena Slam

Melbourne: When Serena and Venus Williams face off in the Australian Open Saturday morning, it will be the first time in more than 100 years of Grand Slam history same two women have met in four straight finals.

And younger sister Serena will attempt to complete a ‘Serena Slam’ by winning her fourth consecutive Grand Slam — defeating Venus in all four finals.

Yet another all-Williams final has left prognosticators examining every factor, no matter how trivial, looking for one that could make a difference in this match.

Certainly, great note was taken of Serena’s forehand, which was missing in her three-set semi-final victory over Kim Clijsters, as well as the foot blisters she suffered in the match. Similarly, weight has been assigned to the fact Venus hasn’t lost a set at the Australian Open.

Even personality quirks are taken into account. Who is in a good mood' Who isn’t' If this sounds trivial, welcome to women’s tennis, in which almost every Serena news conference has taken place with a question about clothes or jewellery.

But current form and mood aren’t necessarily predictors of Slam success in matches between the sisters. At Wimbledon in 2000, Serena had dropped only 13 games in five matches and was very loose. Venus won their semi-final match.

The ‘new’ Serena has beaten her older sister four consecutive times in straight sets, three in Grand Slam finals in 2002.

The last player to complete a non-calendar-year Grand Slam was Steffi Graf, in 1994.

Serena, on a 27-match winning streak at the majors, knows what stands between her and the Serena Slam. “One match and Venus,” she said, smiling.

Said Venus: “No matter who it is, I hate to lose. The same with her, maybe even more.”

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