After taking separate trajectories over the first week of the season-opening Grand Slam event, Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard will meet in the quarter-final stage of the Australian Open to the delight of fans in attendance. This will mark the fourth time that the two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Sharapova leading the head to head series with an unbeaten 3-0 record.
The second seeded Sharapova stormed into the final eight in Melbourne with a rapid-fire straight sets win against Shuai Peng. She dropped just three games in her 6-3, 6-0 win over Peng and needed just 1 hour and 15 minutes to do so. The Russian struck 27 winners, 15 unforced errors and won 73% of her first service points to ease into her match-up against Bouchard.
Seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard had a slightly more turbulent path to the quarter-finals. After leading 6-1, 3-0, and seemingly en route to a remarkably simple wi against the surging Irina-Camelia Begu, she allowed the Romanian to level the match at 5-5, and then steal the set to force a decider. However, the Canadian managed to find the decisive break for a 5-2 lead and closed out the match from there.
“It’s disappointing for me because I want to play so well and I want to be perfect. That’s not possible. It happens. Yeah, I think I started being a bit less aggressive, a bit too passive, and you know, that’s not my game at all. I don’t do well when that happens. She could string together a few good points here and there, hit some good shots and serves and got some confidence in the second set. You know, that helped her. So definitely disappointing.”
Of Sharapova and Bouchard’s three encounters, the Canadian is yet to work out a way to beat her Russian adversary. Their last two meetings took place at the French Open, the most recent of which was the only time that Bouchard was able to snatch a set off her opponent. While this has all the makings of an exciting encounter, one will have to give Sharapova the advantage given her performances to date in Melbourne.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Three Sets