Australian Open: Serena Williams keen for sixth title

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Melbourne Park
Serena Williams
Williams's last Australian Open title came in 2010
Australian Open 2015
Dates: 19 January-1 February Venue: Melbourne Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, selected live text commentaries and daily reports on the BBC Sport website

Top seeds Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are determined to make up for early exits last year when the Australian Open starts next week.

Number one seed Williams, 33, lost to Serbia's Ana Ivanovic last year and struggled at the Grand Slams until she won an 18th major title at the US Open.

She looked unconvincing at the recent Hopman Cup but is focused on a sixth Australian title.

"I've been going for number six for a number of years now," said Williams.

"It would be really special for me. I want it I think more than anyone else here but that doesn't mean I'm going to get it, so I'll have to fight hard."

Williams has won the Australian Open five times but not since 2010, and has suffered with injuries on more than one occasion in the opening Slam of the season.

"I remember last year I felt really good, was playing well," she said.

"I was feeling amazing on the court. This year I feel a little off. But I feel off in every Grand Slam - except for last year. That didn't work out for me, so maybe this is different."

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova has not enjoyed the best of fortunes in Melbourne

Second seed Sharapova, 27, won her only Australian title in 2008 and last year went out to Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova in the last 16.

However, the Russian won her fifth major title at the French Open, ended the year as the world number two and began 2015 with victory at the Brisbane International.

"I thought I did many things well but I'm not going into next week throwing flowers at myself or anything," said Sharapova.

"I'm starting from scratch. I'm hungry. I'm determined to do better. I lost in the fourth round here. That's not a result I want. I want to do much better. I'm here to try to win the title."

With last year's champion Li Na now retired, many see Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova as the leading candidate to topple the top two.

The 24-year-old Czech won the title in Sydney on Friday and is determined to make up for early exits in Melbourne over the last two years.

"I would like to forget about the last year," said Kvitova, who lost to Thailand's Luksika Kumkhum in the first round.

"Unfortunately it's impossible. On the other side I know I can do only better. So that's the good thing.

"I'm excited to play, of course. It's a Grand Slam. It's what I love to play. I just will do everything I can to be better than last year because it was very disappointing."