Tennis: Sharapova ready to end Serena hoodoo

Maria Sharapova believes she is ready to end her hoodoo against world number one Serena Williams when they meet in the Madrid Open final on Sunday.

Sharapova, who surged into her first final in Madrid with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Ana Ivanovic on Saturday, hasn't beaten Williams since 2004, losing 11 straight matches against the 15-time Grand Slam champion in that period.

However, with the number one ranking also for the taking should the Russian manage to win, she has taken encouragement from their last meeting in Miami earlier this year when Sharapova took the opening set.

"I thought I played really well at a good level against her in Miami for the first set and a half," she said afterwards.

"That's not enough obviously, the goal is to keep that level for the whole match and to open up my opportunities, to take my opportunities.

"This is her third or fourth final in a row, so she's been playing really well.

"Of course it's always tough against her. I haven't had a win against her in a long time, but the great thing is that I'm setting myself up in a position where I can try to change that around.

"Getting to the final is a great achievement here. I haven't been at this stage yet, so, yeah, I am obviously looking forward to it."

Williams was victorious when the two met on the blue clay of Madrid last year, but Sharapova believes the different conditions now that the traditional red clay surface has returned in the Spanish capital means that not too much can be read into that result.

"It's been a while I think since we played on a clay court, but I think every match is just different. It's a different tournament and a different environment. I would like to take away the good things from that previous match and try to incorporate that into tomorrow's match."

On a very different note Sharapova also confirmed that she is dating Bulgarian tennis star Grigor Dimitrov, who dumped world number one Novak Djokovic out of the men's tournament earlier in the week.

The two had been caught on camera kissing in the streets of Madrid on Wednesday and after cryptically writing "how did you catch us?" on the courtside camera after her quarter-final match on Friday, Sharapova confirmed they are an item.

"We're official. We've been seeing each other for a while. You know, it's just news to us that someone took a picture of us now after this time.

"It's nice to have something in life that you're able to have for yourself and on your own, because so much of your lives are in the public eye.

"So this is just a part of your personal life away from the court. It's just something that both of us just want to cherish on our own."

However, she did confirm there was no chance of seeing the two playing mixed doubles anytime soon.

"Last time I played mixed doubles was about I would say 10 years ago. Didn't go too well. Decided that's just not my thing."