Australian Open QF: (1) Serena Williams vs (5) Maria Sharapova
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will renew hostilities on Tuesday at the quarter-final stage of the Australian Open, a rematch of last year’s final at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams is working her way into ominous form in Melbourne as she searches for a seventh Australian Open title, the American world number 1 looks set to continue her recent dominance over Maria.
There were real question marks surrounding the fitness of Serena Williams heading into the first Grand Slam of the year, however Serena has shown absolutely no signs of injury in her first four matches and is actually playing at a very high level. Serena looks like the clear favourite to claim the title from here.
Serena Williams has stormed her way through to the quarter-final stage without dropping a set. The defending champion started the week with a hard-fought straight set victory over Camila Giorgi but has been totally untroubled since then, claiming straight set victories over Su-Wei Hsieh, Daria Kasatkina and Margarita Gasparyan without dropping more than 2 games in any set. Serena will now look to raise her game to another level as she enters the business end of the event.
Maria Sharapova also seems to be working her way into some reasonable form in Melbourne as she enters her eighth quarter-final at the event. Sharapova had a very comfortable draw through the first three rounds, claiming straight set wins over Hibino and Sasnovich before being pushed to three sets by Lauren Davis. Maria’s biggest test came in the fourth round where she recorded a hard-fought 7-5 7-5 win over Belinda Bencic. It was a pretty erratic display by Maria, hitting an astonishing 21 aces but also committing a high number of wild unforced errors and double faults. Maria Sharapova has never lost a quarter-final match in Melbourne, this will be her first time.
It is no secret that Serena Williams has totally owned Maria Sharapova for a decade. Serena holds an 18-2 head-to-head record over Maria and clearly gets great pleasure out of thumping the Russian. Serena has won 17 matches in a row against Maria, dropping just 3 set in the process.
Clearly Serena heads into this match as the overwhelming favourite. This match will give us a better indication as where Serena’s game is at heading into the business end of the tournament. I suspect this match will offer more of the same, Maria hasn’t developed her game and therefore there is no reason to suggest she will be more competitive than usual against Serena. I expect the world number 1 to again reassert her dominance here and win this very comfortably.