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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — For the third consecutive year, a fearless 19-year-old has made a big run to the women's semifinals at the Australian Open, putting the old guard on notice.

Madison Keys takes on American countrywoman Serena Williams in her first major semifinal on Thursday.

On the previous two occasions, the veteran sent the youngster home, and went on to win the title.

In 2013, Victoria Azarenka defeated 19-year-old Sloane Stephens of the U.S. in the semis.

Last year, Li Na took out 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in the final four.

Keys said she's been encouraged by the success of Stephens and Bouchard at Melbourne Park, but she wants to go one step further.

"It's one of those things when you see some of your peers doing well, going deep in tournaments, it's inspirational. Makes you kind of believe that you can do the same," she said.

Here are some things to watch for on Thursday at the Australian Open:


ALL-RUSSIAN SHOWDOWN (No. 2 Maria Sharapova vs. No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova): The Americans aren't the only ones having a resurgence at the Australian Open; Russia has two women in the semifinals of a major for the first time since 2009 (it happened three times that year). Sharapova is back in the semis of the Australian Open for the third time in the past four years, but she's only won the title here in 2008. Makarova also knows what to expect at this stage of a Slam — she reached the semis of last year's U.S. Open before losing to Serena Williams. Although Sharapova looked shaky against another Russian in the second round, saving two match points before beating Alexandra Panova, she has only lost 10 games since. Sharapova also has a 5-0 record against Makarova.


INJURY AND ILLNESS (No. 1 Serena Williams vs. Madison Keys): The second semifinal might come down to whoever is healthiest. Williams has a bad cold, so bad that she sounded hoarse after her quarterfinal win over Dominika Cibulkova, and kept her answers to courtside questions brief. Keys strained her left abductor during her win over Williams' sister, Venus, on Wednesday — the same injury that caused her to retire from the third round at Wimbledon last year. Williams comes in as the heavy favorite — she has 18 career Grand Slam titles (including five at the Australian Open) to just one WTA title for Keys — but she's not looking past the teenager, now coached by Lindsay Davenport. "Madison has a big serve, a huge forehand," she said. "She's improved leaps and bounds. So it's going to be a tough match for me."


COURTSIDE GLAMOR: (No. 6 Andy Murray vs. No. 7 Tomas Berdych): There will likely be as many camera shots of Murray and Berdych as there will be of their respective girlfriends, Kim Sears and Ester Satorova, during the first men's semifinal. Both men are newly engaged and both fiancées are sporting big rocks on their fingers. (Just don't ask whose is bigger.) There's another layer of subtext to the match — Berdych's new coach, Dani Vallverdu, used to coach Murray until the two parted ways in November. The Scot doesn't see this as an advantage for Berdych, though. "It's just something that you deal with as a player," he said. "My goal isn't to beat Dani; my goal is to beat Berdych." The Czech player, who has only made one major final at Wimbledon in 2010, has a 6-4 record against the Scot, although eventual champion Murray won their most recent Slam match in the 2012 U.S. Open semis.



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