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Melbourne (AFP) - 11:32 GMT - AFP IS CLOSING THIS LIVE REPORT after Serena Williams produced one of the great performances of her career to beat fierce rival Maria Sharapova and win her sixth Australian Open final, sealing her 19th Grand Slam title.
Fighting raged in eastern Ukraine on Saturday as pro-Russian separatists sought to tighten the circle around government forces clinging on to a rail center, with 15 Ukrainian soldiers killed in the past 24 hours. Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak said separatists were keeping up intense pressure on Debaltseve, a major rail and road junction north-east of the big city of Donetsk, as well as on the neighboring town of Vuhlehirsk. "The toughest situation is in the Vuhlehirsk area where the terrorists are trying to seize the town and occupy positions to move forward and encircle Debaltseve," military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a separate briefing. The renewed violence followed intense fighting on Friday in which more than 20 civilians were killed in separate shelling attacks in Donetsk, Debaltseve and other areas.
American top seed Serena Williams won her sixth Australian Open and 19th career Grand Slam title on Saturday with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Russia's Maria Sharapova. The triumph means the world number one overtakes 18-time major champions Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert to go a clear second on the all-time Open-era winners' list, three behind Steffi Graf on 22. It also extends her staggering decade-long dominance of arch rival Sharapova, with the world number one posting her 16th straight victory over the Russian. The first Australian final in a decade to feature the tournament's top two seeds was a one-sided affair in the first set although Sharapova rallied to make a contest of it in the second.