Defending champion Maria Sharapova will begin her 2014 campaign to defend her title with a second round match-up against Lucie Safarova. This will likely be an intriguing and exciting contest, as the two have clashed on four occasions on the WTA tour, with Sharapova leading the head-to-head series 4-1. Sharapova has won the last three consecutive matches against Safarova, including a third round match-up at Indian Wells last month.
Maria Sharapova is yet to make her mark in the 2014 season. She reached the semi-finals in Brisbane, the fourth round in Melbourne, and the semi-finals in Paris. She would then lose in the third round at Indian Wells and the semi-finals in Miami, which dropped her to world No. 9 in the rankings. She will be looking to desperately maintain her spot in the Top 10, as she is defending a significant amount of points as champion in Stuttgart.
World No. 26 Lucie Safarova began her 2014 clay court season in Charleston, where she reached the quarter-final round before losing to eventual champ Andrea Petkovic. She followed up with a win over Italy’s Sara Errani to boost her confidence heading into the Porsche tournament. She gave Sharapova a serious contest last month at Indian Wells and will be looking to overcome her Russian adversary this time around.
This is the fifth time that Sharapova and Safarova will meet on the WTA tour, with Sharapova leading the series 2-1. She has won their three most recent encounters, with Safarova only winning their first meeting back in 2010. The series is tied at 1-1 on clay. While this match has the potential of going three sets, an in-form Sharapova should be the favourite to win the match, yet rationality has certainly not been on her side as of late. It will be interesting to see if Safarova will manage the upset victory tomorrow.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Three Sets