Women’s Australian Open, Quarter-Final Preview for Tuesday: Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

A rematch of last year’s superb Australian Open final will be the headline act of Tuesday’s schedule with the world number one, Serena Williams going up against the world number five, Maria Sharapova. Serena has looked in truly dazzling form; her last two rounds have seen her take out promising Russian players in under an hour; firstly Daria Kasatkina, 6-1 6-1 and then on Sunday, Margarita Gasparyan, 6-2 6-1. Based on the scoreline, Serena’s toughest match came in the first round against Camila Giorgi. It’s been somewhat of a surprise to me because she did struggle and throw in a couple of shockers last year on her Grand Slam runs. This year, she has looked sharp, focused and frankly, unstoppable.

Sharapova had lost at the fourth round stage at four of her last seven Grand Slams; she didn’t suffer the same fate on Sunday as she edged past Belinda Bencic, 7-5 7-5. Bencic spoke in press about how well Sharapova was serving and this was one of the factors that helped Sharapova open up their head-to-head with a win. While her first serve percentage was low at 45%, she won 33 out of 39 points behind it and hit 21 aces. Considering she came into Melbourne having played no warm-up tournaments, it’s been an excellent week so far for Sharapova.

Head-to-head record: Serena leads Maria in the head-to-head, 18-2. Sharapova has not beaten the world number once since 2004. Their only two meetings in 2015 both came at the Slams; while their semi-final at Wimbledon was a drab affair, Sharapova did put up a decent fight in last year’s Australian Open final. Serena won, 6-3 7-6(5) but it was a high quality contest and one of my favourite WTA matches of the year.

Analysis: Every year there’s a slight sense of renewed optimism that may-be, just may-be, that Sharapova can finally bag a win over Serena. This was definitely the case last year when Serena was under the weather. However, the American player always gets up for these matches. For Sharapova to stand a chance, she MUST serve well. Against Bencic she produced 21 aces although her first serve percentage was low and this just will not get the job done with Serena on the other side of the net. I hope Sharapova can do it one day but I don’t think i’ll ever be predicting it until it becomes an eventuality… Serena for the win.

Prediction: S.Williams d. Sharapova in 2 sets

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

21 thoughts on “Women’s Australian Open, Quarter-Final Preview for Tuesday: Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova

  1. Serena could get tight with whats at stake… or complacent because she feels so comfortable in most areas against Maria. I keep feeling like Serena might be peaking too early in this Slam which worries me! Hopefully im wrong…

    Thoughts on Djokovic scraping through this year like Serena did here last year? He’s been quite unlike himself in every match so far and Nishikori could well best him unless he really digs deep!

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    • I always think Serena might get complacent in that match-up but then she steps on the court and it’s business as usual. Her breeze through the draw has surprised me because last year she was always getting into three setters at the Slams and also with the long break after the US Open last year. I saw the end of the fourth set of Djokovic-Simon… those drop shots! It hasn’t changed my view of Djokovic’s chances at the AO. I expect Djokovic to beat Nishikori pretty comfortably, in three or four sets. I feel like he sometimes throws in matches like this (perhaps not quite to the extent that he did against Simon – 100 UFEs!) and I actually think it will make him stronger going forward.

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      • Simon doesn’t have the killer instinct, else he would have won against Djokovic. Novak had a momentum going and Simon challenged it. You simply can’t stay at peak level or top performance all the time and itoday’s game showed Djokovic’s lapses. A similar thing happened to Daria when she was all of sudden going very negative in her match, angry emotions, even with the Aussie crowd support. That bouncy self had plateau-ed. If I recall correctly, it was what Andy or Someone that said they didn’t like that about him( Novak) seemingly feigning tiredness or being hurt or out of sorts, only to suddenly charge back. Experience has thought him to just bide his time and see things through. This is something IronStan does not give to him when he plays his clinical one strike tennis. This happens to other players more than some, like Monfils, who just ‘Yoyos’ widely through a five set match from sheer brilliance to mediocrity.

        I wouldn’t read to much into it, but if I were on court and I was Nishikori, it may give me some confidence that this player can be overcome. But, I’m not Nishikori, so there..

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      • Im positive that had Simon started playing more aggressively he’d just have made more errors and Djokovic would have made less and ultimately won. There are few players better when they’re down than Novak. Theres a video on youtube of best match points saved and he features quite a lot.

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      • He played 4.5 hours with Simon. If Kei drags him another 4+ hours. It would be fun to see what can he do with Federer. He would be damn fatigue even if he beats Federer again. Stan or Murray will be waiting to slay him. He has not had any strong opponents before semi-finals in the past. This time, he will struggle.

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      • He spent almost twice as long on court in Wimbledon 2014 than Federer did by the finals. In 2011-14 he was regularly spending 2-4 hours involved in all of his second week matches. I still wouldnt count him out for the win even if his next 3 matches go the distance.

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  2. Ho Hum….one just has to look at the h2h Serena has against Maria for starters,Serena relishes these matches,Serena still has plenty left in the tank.This is where the ‘business end of a slam begins’.
    Serena in straight sets.

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    • Serena has jumped out to super strong leads in Slams before and lost them in the last few rounds. Us Open 11, US Open 09, Wimbledon 08, Aus Open 08 are just a couple where she hadnt dropped a set before losing in straight sets. It can still happen…

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      • Victoria Azarenka will be very disappointed if that were to happen, no one can give her credibility the shine she craves but a certain number 1 ranked player Ms. Williams.

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      • I have this feeling like if Makarova beats Konta then she’ll go onto make the finals. She has a healthy h2h against Azarenka.

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      • Serena is motivated with a MISSION. Although anything can happen in this world, I do not see her losing to Sharapova. The psychology effects will kill Sharapova one more time.

        Azarenka playing in the final is not a sure thing to me. She has not been tested. If someone can give her resistance, she may be knocked out.

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    • Serena has been so much cleaner in her aces-double faults & winners-unforced errors ratios now. She has come through with flying colors on a perfect 8/8 for sets won, held 25 of 27 services games, and has served no more than three double faults in each of her matches. Maria’s serve has improved – she served a whopping 52 aces in her four matches so far. But, with the number of double faults increasing each match further (1st round = 2, 2nd round = 3, 3rd round = 5, 4th round = 7), her serve will eventually wear her down and tire her out, especially since Serena’s serve has been very solid from start to finish. Maria struggled against Davis and Bencic, especially since she already dropped a set to Davis. If Maria wants to beat Serena, she needs to improve on two things: one is her serve and two is that she absolutely has to cut down on the number of unforced errors she makes in her matches.

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  3. Oddly, I sometimes wish these two were friends, I sometimes wish Maria could play a blinder and get one over Serena, I sometimes wish this was more akin to a Pistol Pete – Agassi rivalry, and their encounters are nail biting close finishes…but as they, if wishes where horses..

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    • Maria doesn’t have friends on the womens tour and that’s how she’s always wanted it. At the end of the day she thoroughly deserves to get her ass kicked by Serena because she’s been very rude and disrespectful on several occasions, as she has to many other.

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      • I think Maria used to be friends with Maria Kirilenko (they used to play against each other when they were up and coming teenagers), but she feels that she can’t compete hard against someone she’s friends witrh off the court. I think she should be respected for that because other players have said they found it hard to compete against their friends; Petra Kvitova has said so after she played Lucie Safarova, and Alize Cornet said the same about playing Kiki Mladenovic.

        I’m not her greatest fan either, in my case because I dislike her screaming intensely and wish she could be made to rein it in, especially once the ball is on the other side of the court. I’m convinced that Aga Radwanska netted a shot she would otherwise have made because of this (in their match in Singapore in 2014), but I can’t show you because the video has been taken down.

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  4. Lets Play,Simon typical French player has great technique,though goes missing when it matters.Simon had plenty of BPS against Novak in the 1st set,failed to convert,I though then that might come back to haunt him,sure did,he could have defeated Novak in 4 sets.Novak was there for the taking.

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  5. Maria can push Serena in two close sets. But, she does not have the guts to break Serena’s serve or to force each set into a tiebreak. According to ESPN Tennis Commentator Chrissie Evert, Maria is the one who needs to start out stronger. So far, Maria’s match stats are 152 winners, 143 unforced errors, 52 aces, and 17 double faults. But, Serena’s match stats are 25 aces, 6 double faults, 91 winners, and 71 unforced errors. Serena has proven to her fans and the tennis world that her serve has gotten much better and she has started and ended strong. To me, Maria needs to clean up her percentage of first serves in. The number of double faults that she has served in each match has increased every time she gets further in the tournament. But, Serena hasn’t served more than 3 double faults per match and has also still not dropped a set in the tournament. With that in mind, I think the scoreline will be two close sets in Serena’s favor. It could be either 7-5 6-4, 7-5 7-5, 6-4 6-4, or 6-3 6-3.

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  6. With a losing record of 18-2 H2H, Sharapova does nothing better than Williams. It’s hard to see her winning this match, even though she is definitely due for a win in this rivalry. One could speculate on what has to happen for a Sharapova victory, but the reality of it is … it is highly unlikely. Good luck Maria..hopefully being due for a win will be enough for you to get the victory. Otherwise match to Williams.

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