???? US OPEN, R1 match preview
?? (8) Serena Williams vs. ?? Maria Sharapova
The pick of the opening round match-ups at the 2019 US Open sees the two biggest names in women’s tennis renew hostilities as Serena Williams comes up against Maria Sharapova. This will be the 22nd career meeting between the pair, their first ever meeting at the US Open. Williams holds a 19-2 head-to-head record over Sharapova and has won the last 18 matches between the pair in what is arguably the most talked about match-up in women’s tennis over the last few decades. Will Williams continue her dominance over Sharapova in New York?
Serena Williams is still desperately searching for a 24th major title, her first since returning from giving birth. Williams has been close on several occasions over the last few years having reached the final in 3 of her last 5 Grand Slam appearances. Williams was infamously beaten by Naomi Osaka in last year’s controversial US Open final, can the 37-year-old go one step further in 2019? Recent form suggests Williams will yet again feature late in the tournament, Williams arrives in New York fresh from a runner-up showing at the Rogers Cup which was ultimately derailed by a back injury, Williams reached the Wimbledon final just a few months ago.
The last time Serena Williams played Maria Sharapova was at the quarter-final stage of the 2016 Australian Open, Maria Sharapova would fail a doping test shortly after that match. Sharapova has never threatened at a major Since her return from the subsequent doping ban. Sharapova is currently languishing just inside the top 100 of the rankings and has really struggled for the majority of the 2019 season with ongoing injury problems continuing to make life tough for the Russian. Most recently Sharapova broke a lengthy winless spell with a straight set win over Alison Riske in Cincinnati before receiving a reality check as she was smashed by Ash Barty in the next round. It will be fascinating to see how Sharapova regroups and performs against her greatest ever rival.
Williams has absolutely dominated Sharapova, everyone knows that. Williams has won an unprecedented 18 matches in a row against Sharapova, 12 of the last 13 of those matches were straight set victories.
There is little to suggest that Sharapova will be able to stop her losing streak against Williams in New York. Williams has generally been much closer to her best than Sharapova has been to her best. Serena’s serve is still strong, she still has the power and her movement is still good. Sharapova’s serve is a mess and she is certainly not as strong as she once was. Nevertheless, I feel like this will be closer than expected, Williams will be rusty, Williams will be nervous, Sharapova has nothing to lose and a point to prove. I can’t pick Sharapova but it’s not impossible.