The historic rivalry between Serena and Venus Williams is about to enter another chapter, something no one expected.
Last year, Serena, 34, reached three grand slam finals but won only one of them — Wimbledon.
However, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou doesn’t think this failure to convert finals into titles in 2016 will be affecting her ahead of Saturday’s match.
“It’s not so much about what happened last year, but where she is now, mentally,” Mouratoglou told CNN Sport. “And I feel she’s herself, so I don’t see what happened last year as affecting what’s going to happen this year.
“Or maybe it will affect her positively because she is frustrated with what happened last year. She definitely wants to go better this year and sometimes losing is a good way for you to regroup and be better.”
Serena leads the head-to-head record 16-11 (6-2 in grand slam finals), and is the favorite heading into the Australian Open final having not dropped a set over the last fortnight.
If she were to win, Serena would surpass Steffi Graf’s record of 23 grand slams in the Open Era.
Mouratoglou insisted Williams wouldn’t be distracted by what was at stake on Saturday.
“She’s focused, she’s determined,” added Mouratoglou. “She doesn’t think about the fact that she’s playing her sister and she doesn’t think about the 23rd grand slam and regaining the world No. 1.
“It will probably come at a certain point, but for now, no. We had a good practice this morning, she’s relaxed.”
Long road to recovery
As for Venus — how can she upset the odds and defy her sister from making history?
“Like every match she’s got to serve well,” said her coach David Witt. “Serena’s going to serve well, that’s her forte. Venus, in her last match, was under pressure. Her serve held out, I think that’s going to have to happen again. She’s got to get a high percentage of serves in.
“It’s going to be a heavyweight from the baseline. They’re both going to go at it, they both know each other. She wants it.”
The last few years haven’t been easy for Venus after she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011.
Witt praised how she’s dealt with her illness — and thinks she will emerge with an eighth grand slam title to her name.
“She put the work in, she learned about Sjogren’s and took care of her body and what she put in her body in terms of food. She just had to listen to her body, it took time.
“It was a shock initially when she found out. She never thought about stopping or retiring and I think all the hard work she put in — this is what she plays for.
“I think Venus [will win]. She really wants it and obviously confidence is sky-high, so she’s going to go in, there’s nothing to lose, no one expected her to be in the final.
“All the pressure’s on Serena.”