There have been shocks aplenty in the bottom half of the women’s draw, but the quarter-finals have really held up. Eugenie Bouchard and Maria Sharapova have both come through for the loss of just one set and will resume what is slowly become a very intriguing rivalry. Bouchard lost her first set of the tournament in the fourth round to Irina-Camelia Begu in a 6-1 5-7 6-2 victory. Bouchard led by a set and a double break, before losing five straight games in an error-strewn second set. Since saving two match points against Alexandra Panova in the second round, Sharapova has looked rather terrifying, at least to the rest of the players in the draw. Sharapova lost just two games against Zarina Diyas and three games against Peng Shuai, spending less time on the court for these two matches compared to the match with Panova.
Sharapova has won all three previous encounters with Bouchard; the first two were both in straight sets, but the most recent of those in the semi-finals of Roland Garros was a terrific match. Bouchard demonstrated her rapid improvement on tour but Maria held on for the win, 4-6 7-5 6-2. Genie has been playing solid this week without really setting the world alight. There could have been a letdown this year, particularly after she got wiped at the WTA Championships in Singapore. Her mental resilience doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. I don’t buy in to the “she’s had a piss easy draw” because the last two players she has come up against were both dangerous. You can only beat who is in front of you and if she’s going to go all the way, Genie will have to beat top ten players. The draws do normally equalise out over the year despite what some people will say!
One of Genie’s greatest strengths is her self-belief and there’s no doubt that she believes she can beat Maria. However, i’m backing Maria in this one. When a player survives match points, I think it’s a huge confidence boost and particularly for someone like Sharapova. She’s looked incredibly focussed since that second round match. Maria for the win…
Prediction: Sharapova d. Bouchard in 2 sets