Russian superstar Maria Sharapova will continue her China Open campaign on Friday afternoon when she meets Svetlana Kuznetsova for the 12th time on the professional tour. Sharapova leads the head-to-head series 7-4, and is coming off a win over her fellow Russian last week in Wuhan.
Sharapova avenged her Montreal loss to Carla Suárez Navarro on Wednesday afternoon to reach the final eight in Beijing. The fourth seed got off to a scintillating start against her Spanish opponent, as she snatched the opening set 6-1 before facing some resistance to take the second set 7-6(3).
“I started off the match really well, which is something I didn’t do when I lost to her in Montréal,” Sharapova said. “She was the more aggressive then and today from the beginning I led her to make a few more mistakes than she wanted to. “Towards the middle of the second set I became more passive. It’s something that I think gave her the chance to move in a little bit more, to approach and come in, start hitting the ball a bit deeper. That made it a little trickier. But overall I thought I did a good job of coming back in that tie-breaker.”
While the rain forced the match to be delayed from Wednesday to Thursday, that did not change Svetlana Kuznetsova’s motivation to dispatch Angelique Kerber, along with her chances at qualifying for the WTA finals in Singapore. After dropping the opening set, the Russian rallied back to win the following two sets to close the match out 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in 2 hours and 8 minutes.
This marks the 12th time that Sharapova and Kuznetsova will meet on the WTA Tour, and the first time in over 3 years. Sharapova leads the series 7-4, including the most recent two outings. She will likely make that three consecutive wins on Monday afternoon.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Straight Sets