Email
Print
Email
Print

Maria Sharapova can snap losing streak to Serena Williams in Madrid Open final

Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font
Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams

Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams last met in the Miami final, won by Williams. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The No. 1 ranking will be on the line when top-ranked Serena Williams and No. 2 Maria Sharapova meet for the 15th time in the Madrid Open final on Sunday. Williams beat 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals, while Sharapova dispatched Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-3 to win her 500th career match.

This may just be Sharapova’s best chance to snap a losing streak to Williams that dates to 2005. That’s one long, 11-match losing streak.

Sharapova asked about Dimitrov by Bulgarian journalist

“I haven’t had a win against her in a long time,” Sharapova told Reuters after being Ivanovic. “But the great thing is that I’m setting myself up in a position where I can try to change that around.”

The best way to understand just how long it’s been since Sharapova, who beat Serena to win her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2004, got a win is with this graphic from the WTA website. Look at those scorelines. That’s a lot of bagels and breadsticks.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 3.50.25 PM

Sharapova took the first set off Williams in their last meeting, the Sony Open final in March, the first time in five years she hadn’t been swept by Williams.

“I thought I played really well, at a good level, in Miami for the first set and a half but that’s not enough,” she told Reuters. “Obviously the goal is to keep that level for the whole match and to take my opportunities.”

The difference this time is Sharapova is now playing on what has become, rather surprisingly, her best surface, one that is clearly Williams’ worst. Sharapova, the 2012 French Open champion, is riding a 25-match win streak on red clay, dating to Stuttgart last year, and comes into the Madrid final having crushed the competition and not lost a single set in Spain.

In contrast, this is Williams’ first final on red clay in over 10 years, her last being at the 2002 French Open when she beat sister Venus for her one and only title at Roland Garros. She hasn’t been as convincing this week. She’s only dropped one set — a shocking 6-0 bagel to clay specialist Anabel Medina Garrigues in the quarterfinals — but her matches have been surprisingly close given the power she should be able to generate in Madrid, which is played at altitude. She’s aiming for her 50th career title Sunday.

“I feel this whole tournament I have only played clay-court opponents,” Williams told The Associated Press after beating Errani on Saturday. “All have been smaller than me. Tomorrow will be a different game, more power.”

Video: Medina Garrigues fluffs new tennis balls against Williams

The red clay has been such a mental issue for Williams. There’s no reason she shouldn’t be able to win on the surface, but the fact is she hasn’t in over a decade. That futility was highlighted last year in her shocking first-round exit to Virginie Razzano at the French Open. On non-red clay, she doesn’t have a problem.  She beat Sharapova in a tight affair in Charleston in 2008 and Madrid last year, where she handed the Russian her only loss on clay — albeit blue clay — in the last two seasons.

It goes without saying that if Williams comes out and plays her best tennis she’ll win. Her best, regardless of the surface, is just better than Sharapova’s, and the quicker conditions in Madrid favor her bigger game. But this is a huge opportunity for Sharapova to finally exorcise the Williams demon and make this a rivalry.

Prediction: Sharapova in three sets. 

Sharapova’s response to published photos of her with Dimitrov

  • Published On May 11, 2013
  • 14 comments
    Sennit14
    Sennit14

    HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY ORACENE!  Sorry Courtney.  I hope you still have a wonderful Mother's Day.

    Agassi,Serena,Roddick,Venus
    Agassi,Serena,Roddick,Venus

    So Maria wins in 3 sets, what in the world was Courtney Nguyen, thinking when she wrote this piece, like really???

     

    You cannot, i repeat, you cannot hold how Serena played in the past (9 years ago) to how she is playing today. Serena's 1st round lost in the French last year was the best thing for her in improving her clay court play. Since, teaming with Patrick, Serena has added so much more variety to her game that it's what got her to the final this time around. Serena is coming to the net more looking like her big sis "V" with her volleys. Rena's semifinal watch against Radwanska at the Sony Open was by far some of the best Damn tennis matches she has played to date. I've match so many times just amazed at how Tennis smart Serena really is now but never gets credit for. All anaylst talk about is power and how that's all Serena has in her game. No, that's all Maria Sharapova has in her game, which is why she lost yet again to Ms. Serena Williams.

     

    Happy Mother's Day to all moms out there and Oracene Price for raising and mentoring such a great champion. 

    OremiKwabenaBwire1
    OremiKwabenaBwire1

    Serena spanked her butt again! I really hope Serena wins the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open again this year!

    lilluke
    lilluke

    Courtney you got this one wrong

     

    dianejholder2
    dianejholder2

    Sharapova has her best chance ever, as Serena's play has been erratic.  But you can never count Serena out and Sharapova has a hard time beating her for a long time now,  but Azarenka beat her recently so it is not impossible.

    Hope it is a good match, but as a Serena fan, I hope Serena wins.

    donnio
    donnio

    Have you guys seen the draws at Rome.  Sharapova again has a cakewalk.  After her bye, she plays the winner of two qualifiers.  How can this keep happening all the time.  Sharapova is a great tennis player, but the laws of average are definitely against her keep getting these easy draws.  She only played ONE top 20 player in route to the title at the French last year.  I just hope Serena plays well tomorrow. She usually does against Sharapova.  And Serena has a remarkable record in finals.

    vs2tennis
    vs2tennis

    Troy B....you hit the nail on the head with that one.  The "draws" on Maria's side are almost always clear paths...

    troy b
    troy b

    I still feel when you look at the draws of the tournament's sharapova's is always easy and serena is hard but she still makes it though so you can't really give the edge to sharapova

    aidanhell
    aidanhell

    Sharapova - Williams reminds me a lot of matches I've watched with Evert-Navratilova.  After several one sided encounters it becomes a mental struggle for the underdog more than anything. Both players' games are based on a blind overconfidence. Its pretty remarkable, and its a necessity for them in order to succeed. But when doubt creeps in - thats where the other can impose their game. If Sharapova took time to watch how she competed in 2004/2005- blind ambition, taking risks, fighting, almost hating everyone she played - she will always have a chance against Serena, because that destabilizes Serena. But Williams has nothing to really worry about, because right now, Sharapova still doubts herself too often. Their rivalry is important to women's tennis. 

    troy b
    troy b

    Who ever wrote this you will see tomorrow Serena's game will tell the tale they need to stop fixing the draws

    NoniMissMouse
    NoniMissMouse

    I've noticed a similar thing.  I'm going to ask a math professor of mine to do a statistical analysis of Maria Sharapova's draws versus the other top 5 players.

     

    Math can prove whether or not there has been draw fixing.

     

    I bet he could get this paper published too.

    BethannbillyWintour
    BethannbillyWintour

     @donnio Let her have her easy draws.  It'll do nothing to improve her tennis, not having real challenges like that.  She can rack up the numbers, but those types of wins are nothing to be proud of.