Sharapova and Ivanovic reach final

Russian Sharapova beat Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-3 to reach the final without dropping a set while Ivanovic battled her way to a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory over America’s Varvara Lepchenko.?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??

Sharapova beat Ivanovic in the 2008 Australian Open final and both women look in good form heading towards the first Grand Slam of the season, which starts in Melbourne on January 19.?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??

Sharapova has dropped just nine games in her three matches to get to the final and showed no mercy against Svitolina ?????a rising star who won the 2010 junior French Open ?????as she reached her 56th career WTA final.

Ivanovic, who came from a set down to win her previous match, once again had to dig deep before seeing off Lepchenko after nearly two hours on the Pat Rafter Arena.

Lepchenko twice served for the opening set but Ivanovic broke back both times then won the tie-breaker.

In the second set, Ivanovic charged to a 5-1 lead before suffering a wobble, which allowed Lepchenko to reel off the next three games before she finally sealed the win on her seventh match point.?? ?? ?? ?? ??

After the match Ivanovic told reporters: “Definitely, (my) heart was racing a little bit, especially that it was really becoming a battle.”????

“Even though I was 5-1 up, still felt like a battle all the way through.”

Ivanovic will be chasing her 16th WTA career title and her fifth in 12 months after she began her latest resurgence up the world rankings.??Currently ranked seventh, the 27-year-old is looming as one of the favourites for the Australian Open.