World No. 1 Serena Williams will return to professional competition this week at the Sony Open, where she is scheduled to meet Yaroslava Shvedova in her opening contest in Miami. The two have previously met on three occasions on the professional tour, with Williams leading the head-to-head series 3-0.
Following her absence at the BNP Paribas Open Premier Mandatory event last week, top ranked Serena Williams has arrived in Miami looking to defend her title throughout the tournament fortnight. The American has been out of action since Dubai, where she was upset by French No.1 Alize Cornet in the semi-final round. She had been struggling with back issues since the Australian Open, where she also exited earlier than expected with a fourth round loss to Ana Ivanovic. With a 9-2 record so far this season, Williams will now be regain the momentum she lost following her title win in Brisbane, starting with a successful defence of her Sony Open title in Miami this week.
World No. 59 Yaroslava Shvedova upset Italy’s Francesca Shiavone in the opening round in Miami to set up the second round match-up against the top seed. It was a strong performance, as Shevdova beat the 2010 French Open champion 6-4, 6-2 in just over an hour. The Kazakhstan native’s best performance at the Sony Open came in 2010, where she defeated Sabine Lisciki and Andrea Petkovic before losing to Radwanska in the fourth round. She had already topped her performance at the event last year, where she lost in the opening round to China’s Jie Zheng. Shvedova is 11-6 so far this season heading into the second round contest against Williams.
This marks the fourth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Williams leading the series 3-0. While the majority of their matches were one-sided, Shvedova did manage to take a set from the American in the fourth round of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. Their most recent meeting took place at last year’s US Open, where Williams earned a quick 6-3, 6-2 win. Barring any injury scares during the match, Williams should be able to win another comfortable match against Shvedova to further her campaign for a successful title defence.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Straight Sets