Maria Sharapova vs. Kiki Bertens, Madrid QF Preview

Mutua Madrid Open, QF Preview
🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova vs. 🇳🇱 Kiki Bertens

An intriguing quarter-final clash in Madrid sees Maria Sharapova and Kiki Bertens go head-to-head for the first time. Kiki Bertens continues to display her clay court pedigree, Bertens is one of the tour’s true clay court specialists and enters this match on a high after a big win over Caroline Wozniacki. Nevertheless Sharapova will not be intimated as Sharapova herself is very handy on the red dirt, Sharapova is a former champion in Madrid and will enter this match with a point to prove as she plays on the big stage of a big tournament for the first time in a while.

Both Sharapova and Bertens have progressed to the quarter-final stage in Madrid without dropping a set. Both have worked their ways through reasonably tough sections of the draw. Sharapova has claimed wins over Mihaela Buzarnescu, Irina-Camelia Begu and Kristina Mladenovic whilst Bertens beat Maria Sakkari, Anastasija Sevastova and Caroline Wozniacki on route to the final 8.

Sharapova and Bertens both enter this clash fresh off their best performances of the week. Sharapova defeated Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-4 whilst Bertens scored a big 6-2 6-2 win over the second seeded Caroline Wozniacki. This will be a battle between two players that posses huge power, albeit different types of power. The flat hitting of Sharapova against the heavy topspin of Bertens, who will prevail?

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Maria Sharapova vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Madrid R3 Preview

Mutua Madrid Open, R3 Preview
🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Maria Sharapova and Kristina Mladenovic will renew hostilities when they meet at the third round stage of the Mutua Madrid Open. This is a big of grudge match, Mladenovic was one of the most vocal players in opposing Sharapova’s apparent lenient treatment and welcoming return to the tour after a doping suspension. The pair played out a tense match in Stuttgart last year in Sharapova’s return tournament and it was Mladenovic who came from a set down to win, can Sharapova get revenge in Madrid?

Maria Sharapova of Russia in action at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open

Maria Sharapova has advanced to the third round in Madrid without dropping a set. Sharapova claimed back-to-back wins over Romanian’s. beating Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-4 6-1 and Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5 6-1. Sharapova’s wins were fairly similar, a tough opening set where the former Madrid champion seemingly broke the spirit of her opponents before running away with the match. Sharapova is playing some of the better tennis we have seen from her in 2018 across her first few matches this week, incredibly she won 19 straight points during the second set of her win over Begu.

Kristina Mladenovic has won back-to-back matches for the first time since Acapulco over 2 months ago. Mladenovic has good memories in Madrid having reached the final last year where she just fell short in an epic 3 set match against Simona Halep. Mladenovic is under pressure to defend those finalist points this year as she would like to remain in the top 30 and be seeded for Roland Garros which is just around the corner. Mladenovic started her 2018 Madrid campaign with a 7-5 6-0 win over CoCo Vandeweghe before beating Shuai Zhang 6-4 4-6 6-3.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. The pair first met at Wimbledon way back in 2013 where Sharapova won in 2 tight sets, more recently it was Mladenovic who won 3-6 7-5 6-4 in Stuttgart last year.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Naomi Osaka vs Maria Sharapova, Indian Wells R1 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R1 Preview
🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka vs 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova

The pick of the opening round matches at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open sees two-time former champion Maria Sharapova come up against Japan’s Naomi Osaka. This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Sharapova, an exciting match-up between two extremely aggressive players. Osaka has already claimed some big victories in her young career, can she add Sharapova to her list of high profile scalps? A determined Sharapova will be keen to deny one the tour's brightest rising-stars.

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Naomi Osaka has been quite consistent of late as she continues to make her way up the rankings. Osaka arrives at the BNP Paribas Open on the back of a decent couple of weeks in the Middle East. Osaka successfully qualified for the main draw in Doha before succumbing in the second round to Anastasija Sevastova. Whilst more recently Osaka reached the quarter-finals in Dubai, solid results after reaching the round of 16 at the Australian Open earlier this year. Osaka had a few good wins over Kristina Mladenovic and Anett Kontaveit in Dubai before being beaten by the eventual champion: Elina Svitolina. Osaka’s immense talent is undeniable, however her mentality is still an issue.

Maria Sharapova’s Middle Eastern swing certainly did no go to plan. Sharapova suffered a shock opening round exit at the Qatar Total Open, beaten by Monica Niculescu from a set and a break ahead. Sharapova would generally be disappointed with her start to the season, the former world number 1 has amassed a modest 5-3 win/loss record up until this point in the season. Sharapova will look to ignite her season in Indian Wells, a tournament where she has great memories having twice won the BNP Paribas Open.

It will be interesting to see how this first time meeting pans out. Osaka seemingly has the game to trouble Sharapova but does Osaka have the mentality to match the intensity and competitiveness of Sharapova?

To view my Analysis / Prediction of this match: Click here

Angelique Kerber vs Maria Sharapova, Australian Open R3 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R3 Preview
🇩🇪 (21) Angelique Kerber vs🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova

The match of the tournament thus far sees two former champions at Melbourne Park go head-to-head at the third round stage when Angelique Kerber takes on Maria Sharapova on Saturday. Kerber is the form player on tour right now having won all 11 of her matches in 2018, the German will face a strong test from one of her biggest rivals when she meets a determined Sharapova on Saturday. The Russian enters this match confident after a great straight set win over Anastasija Sevastova. This will be the first meeting between the pair since 2015 where Kerber got the better of Sharapova in Stuttgart.

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Angelique Kerber has cruised through her first couple of matches at Melbourne Park. The 21st seed started the week with a 6-0 6-4 victory over Anna-Lena Friedsam before beating Donna Vekic 6-1 6-4. Kerber is looking very relaxed and confident on at the moment, reminiscent of the Kerber that dominated the tour in 2016. Kerber will face her first real test of the tournament in the third round when she comes up against Sharapova.

Maria Sharapova started her Australian Open campaign with an average performance, beating Tatjana Maria 6-1 6-4. Sharapova really stepped up her level in the next round, playing one of her best matches since her return from a doping suspension to defeat Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 7-6. Sharapova had some trouble closing the match, failing to serve out the match at 5-4. Sharapova rebounded strongly to convincingly win the second set tiebreak. A good victory for Sharapova given her struggles against Sevastova last year, Sharapova certainly improved on her previous performances against Sevastova.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 3 wins apiece. It was Kerber who had the better of Sharapova in their recent matches. Kerber beat Sharapova 7-6 4-6 6-4 at Wimbledon in 2014 and 2-6 7-5 6-1 in Stuttgart in 2015. Both of those matches were of a very high quality, these two usually bring out the best in each other.

Anastasija Sevastova vs Maria Sharapova, Australian Open R2 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R2 Preview
🇱🇻 (14) Anastasija Sevastova vs 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova

A blockbuster second round clash in Melbourne sees the 14th seeded Anastasija Sevastova renew hostilities with Maria Sharapova. Sevastova and Sharapova played out a couple of epic encounters towards the end of the 2017 season, expect another close battle on Thursday. Sevastova defeated Sharapova at the fourth round stage of the U.S Open whilst the Russian got the better of Sevastova in a 3 set marathon at the China Open a few months later. The contrast in styles between these two makes for a fascinating contest.

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Anastasija Sevastova made a shaky start to her 2018 Australian Open campaign. Sevastova found herself down a set to Varvara Lepchenko but regained her composure nicely to claim a 3-6 6-3 6-2 win over the American. Sevastova has generally been in good form during the Australian summer, most notably in her run to the semi-finals at the Brisbane International. Sevastova’s serve has notably improved in 2018, the Latvian is serving a lot more aces and having more success behind her first serve in general, making her a more complete, dangerous player.

Maria Sharapova reached the second round with a routine 6-1 6-4 victory over Germany’s Tatjana Maria, Sharapova’s first round victory was her first victory at Melbourne Park since her infamous failed drug test at the event in 2016. Sharapova did what she had to do but was far from her best. It is worth noting that Sharapova was quite tentative to come forward to the net throughout the match, a sign that Sharapova is still low on confidence. Sharapova will need to be more brave against Sevastova or she will be punished.

The head-to-head record is split at 1 win apiece, both matches were late last year. Sevastova defeated Sharapova 5-7 6-4 6-2 at the U.S Open whilst Sharapova beat Sevastova 7-6 5-7 7-6 at the China Open. Clearly this is a tight match-up, expect another close match in Melbourne.

Tatjana Maria vs Maria Sharapova, Australian Open R1 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
🇩🇪 Tatjana Maria vs 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova returns to the Australian Open in 2018 for the first time since she failed a drug test at the event in 2016. Sharapova will begin her 2018 campaign with a fairly favourable opening round draw, the Russian will take on Germany’s Tatjana Maria.

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Maria Sharapova started her 2018 season with a decent showing in Shenzhen. Sharapova made it through the semi-finals with wins over Mihaela Buzarnescu, Alison Riske and Zarina Diyas before succumbing to Katerina Siniakova in 3 sets. Sharapova made it to the fourth round at the U.S Open last year in her first Grand Slam appearance back from suspension, it will be interesting see how far Sharapova can go in Melbourne. Interestingly, Sharapova is set to meet Sevastova In the second round, Sharapova’s conqueror in New York last year.

Tatjana Maria has opened her 2018 season with back-to-back opening round defeats. Maria was beaten by Lucic-Baroni in straight sets in Brisbane before being eliminated I the opening round in Hobart by Donna Vekic, also a straight sets loss. The 30-year-old has only ever won 2 main draw matches in Melbourne.

Katerina Siniakova vs Maria Sharapova, Shenzhen SF Preview

Shenzhen Open, Semi-Final Preview
(6) 🇨🇿 Katerina Siniakova vs 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova

A blockbuster semi-final clash at the Shenzhen open sees defending champion Katerina Siniakova take on Maria Sharapova. Siniakova has been very impressive this week in Shenzhen, advancing to the final 4 without dropping a set. Siniakova will face by far her greatest challenge of the week when she comes up against Maria Sharapova for the first time on Friday. Siniakova has mentioned that she is keen to play Sharapova, the Russian was Siniakova’s idol growing up. Can Siniakova keep her title defense alive or will Sharapova prove too strong?

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Katerina Siniakova ended 2017 in poor form, however a return to Shenzhen has seen the 2017 champion start her year in style once again. Siniakova cruised through her first match against Ons Jabeur, winning 6-1 6-1 before getting past a tough challenge from Yafan Wang with a 7-3 6-3 win. Siniakova’s most impressive performance of the week came at the quarter-final stage where she completely outplayed Kristyna Pliskova to win 6-2 6-2. Siniakova did not face a break point all match and continually troubled the Pliskova serve.

Maria Sharapova advanced to the semi-finals in Shenzhen with her most complete performance of the week. Sharapova defeated an in-form Zarina Diyas 6-3 6-3. Sharapova was able to produce a far more consistent level of tennis in her quarter-final match especially compared to her second round win over Alison Riske where she started very slowly and was forced to fight back from a set and a break down. As champion do, Sharapova is getting better as the tournament progresses in Shenzhen.

This will be the first career meeting between Siniakova and Sharapova. It will be interesting to see how the game of Siniakova stacks up to the might of Sharapova. Siniakova possesses a good mix of power, speed and touch, pretty complete game for a 21-year-old. If Siniakova executes her game she could be a threat to Sharapova.

Maria Sharapova vs Zarina Diyas, Shenzhen Open QF Preview

Shenzhen Open, Quarter-Final Preview
🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova vs 🇰🇿 Zarina Diyas

Maria Sharapova continues her Shenzhen Open campaign on Thursday where she takes on Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas. Sharapova and Diyas both advanced to the final 8 in Shenzhen with hard-fought 3 set victories on Tuesday. Sharapova will be confident heading into this match having comfortably beaten Diyas in their 2 previous meeting. However, Diyas will feel she has a better chance this time around given her good form on hard courts.

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Maria Sharapova is enjoying her first trip to Shenzhen. The crowd support for Sharapova in her first two matches has been wild, an environment the Russian certainly thrives in. Sharapova started her 2018 season with a 6-3 6-0 victory against Mihaela Buzarnescu before fighting from a set down to defeat Alison Riske 4-6 6-3 6-2. Sharapova has been quite erratic in her first couple of matches in Shenzhen but her fighting qualities have ensure she has gotten out of some sticky situations unscathed. Sharapova will be hoping to keep improving as the tournament reaches the business end.

Zarina Diyas caused one of the biggest upsets of the tournament thus far when she eliminated the 3rd seeded Shuai Zhang to advance to the quarter-finals in Shenzhen. Diyas had a chance to close out her second round match with Zhang in straight sets but was pushed to a decider where she regrouped and come out on top in a high quality contest, a 6-3 6-7 6-4 victor. Prior to that win, Diyas started her season with a 6-3 6-4 win over Pauline Parmentier.

Sharapova has a perfect 2-0 record over Diyas. Both of their previous matches were in 2015, both ended in straight set victories for Sharapova. 6-1 6-1 at the Australian Open and 6-4 6-4 at Wimbledon. I believe Diyas will enter this match with a better chance of claiming victory than their prior meetings, can the in-form Kazakh cause a big upset in Shenzhen?

Maria Sharapova vs Sofia Kenin, U.S Open R3 Preview

US Open, 🇺🇸🍎🗽🚕 R3 Preview + Prediction
(wc) 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova vs (wc) 🇺🇸 Sofia Kenin

Maria Sharapova’s comeback has been one of the biggest stories of the opening week at Flushing Meadows. The 2006 Champion will continue her U.S Open campaign on Thursday night with a third round clash against American wild card Sofia Kenin. Sharapova made the biggest statement of day 1 when she eliminated the second seeded Simona Halep in an epic, 6-4 4-6 6-3 before backing up that win with a 6-7 6-4 6-1 win over Timea Babos. Sharapova will be hoping for a more straightforward night on Thursday against an unheralded opponent.

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Maria Sharapova vs Timea Babos, U.S Open R2 Preview

US Open, 🇺🇸🍎🗽🚕 R2 Preview + Prediction
(wc) 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova vs 🇭🇺 Timea Babos

Maria Sharapova will be back in action on Wednesday, two days after her epic three set win over the second seeded Simona Halep. Sharapova will take on Hungary’s Timea Babos in the second round, an opponent the Russian has never faced before. Sharapova’s 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Halep was one of the biggest wins of Sharapova’s career given the circumstances, Maria produced such as high level of tennis for someone that was competing at a Grand Slam for the first time in 19 months. It will be interesting to see how Maria rebounds against Babos on Wednesday at Flushing Meadows.

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