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Jan 31, 4:36 AM EST

Serena Williams wins 1st set of Australian Open final

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Serena Williams, coughing frequently and still clearly affected by a recent cold, won the first set of her Australian Open final against Maria Sharapova 6-3 on Saturday.

Rain began falling at Rod Laver Arena and the roof was closed with Williams serving at 30-30 and up a service break at 3-2. Play was stopped for 13 minutes while the court was dried by dozens of ball kids with towels.

Williams, chasing her 19th Grand Slam singles title, had an ace on her first serve back and won six points in a row, including another break of Sharapova's serve to go up 5-2. She broke again at 5-3 to take the set.

Sharapova, who has lost 15 in a row to Williams, double-faulted on break point in the opening game.

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