MELBOURNE:Maria Sharapova just keeps getting better at the Australian Open.
Sharapova, who ended No. 1-ranked Justine Henin's 32-match winning streak in the quarterfinals, outclassed Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1 Thursday to advance to Saturday's final and a bid for her third Grand Slam singles title.
Sharapova, who lost in the final last year here to Serena Williams, will play the winner of Thursday's later semifinal between another Serbian player, Ana Ivanovic, and Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova.
It's the second time in four majors that the Serbian duo has made it to the semis, repeating their run at the last French Open.
The 20-year-old Sharapova, who has not dropped a set in six matches at Melbourne Park this year, won her first major at Wimbledon in 2004, then added the U.S. Open title in 2006.
She led 5-0 in the opening set before No. 3 Jankovic came back with two service breaks to pull to 5-3. But Sharapova clinched it on her sixth set point when an attempted drop shot was ripped back across the net and past a stretching Jankovic.
''I had a bit of a letdown, I was too good for my own level,'' Sharapova said of her first-set lapse. ''But I'm really happy to get back in the final.''
Sharapova broke Jankovic's serve to open the second set, after which the Serbian player received treatment for an apparent back strain. Trailing 3-0, Jankovic again had treatment, laying outstretched on a towel while a physiotherapist massaged her lower back area.
Looking increasingly as if she was playing with pain, Jankovic had trouble getting to several balls and Sharapova won the match when Jankovic hit a backhand wide.
The start of the match was delayed for about 10 minutes when rain began falling in the warm-up, forcing organizers to close the roof at Rod Laver Arena in the quarterfinals.