Madrid R1: (3) Maria Sharapova vs Timea Bacsinszky
Maria Sharapova will kick-start her title defence at the Mutua Madrid Open with a potentially tricky match against the resurgent Timea Bacsinszky. Maria will be well aware of the threat Timea posses, the Swiss Woman won their most recent encounter in Wuhan last year.
After a promising start to the season, Maria Sharapova in currently in the midst of a rare form slump. Maria arrives in Madrid having lost three matches in a row, including first up exits in Miami and Stuttgart. Sharapova’s loss to Daria Gavrilova in Miami was totally uncharacteristic, the way she was brushed aside by Angelique Kerber in the final set in Stuttgart was also concerning.
Maria will be desperate to build some momentum this week with the second Grand Slam of the year just around the corner. The world number 3 was the stand out performer on clay last year, amassing an impressive 14-1 record including titles in Stuttgart and Madrid before claiming a second Roland Garros title.
Timea Bacsinszky has had a remarkable season thus far, achieving a 21-4 win/loss record including back to back title in Acapulco and Monterrey. Timea’s crafty game scrubs up well on clay, she should keep the wins ticking over in the next couple of weeks.
However, Timea arrives in Madrid on the back of her most disappointing loss of the year, a tight three set loss to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova at the quarter-final stage in Marrakesh.
Maria has a 2-1 head to head advantage over Timea. It was Timea who upset Maria in their latest encounter, a memorable 7-6 7-5 victory in Wuhan. Maria thumped Timea, 6-2 6-1 earlier in the season in the second round at Wimbledon. This will be the first career meeting between the pair on clay.
Despite Maria’s recent poor form, it’s impossible to side against her here. Maria is the ultimate competitor, it’s very hard to see her losing four matches in a row. Maria has had a week off to prepare for this event and will be ready to go. This match will undoubtedly be decided by how well Maria plays, if she plays reasonably well she will blow Timea off the court.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Timea Bacsinszky in 2 sets