A fantastic match-up is scheduled to take place in the quarter-final round of the Rome Open, as world No. 3 Maria Sharapova and two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka will cross paths for the 13th time on the professional tour. The head-to-head series is tied 7-7, although Sharapova has won their three most recent clashes.
Seeded third at this year’s tournament, Sharapova continued her relatively straightforward path to the tournament final, as she defeated Bojana Jovanovski on Thursday afternoon in straight sets to set up the meeting with Azarenka. She won the match 6-3,6-3 with little fuss and a solid game that comprised of three aces, winning 66 percent of her first service points and converting six break points to win the match in a total of one hour and 31 minutes.
“Today I just had to be very patient and solid,” Sharapova said. “I had a tricky opponent and not easy conditions – the wind was pretty swirly out on the court, so I just had to stay steady.
“Despite a couple of breaks back and forth in the second set, I was really happy to finish so strongly.”
In a more competitive third round match-up, Victoria Azarenka needed three sets to get past Irina Camelia Begu to secure her spot in the final eight of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. She won 75 percent of her first service points and broke serve seven times to close out the match 6-4,5-7,6-1 in two hours and 14 minutes.
Sharapova and Azarenka have crossed paths on 14 previous occasions, with the series tied 7-7. However, the Russian adversary won their three most recent meetings on the tour, and will look to extend that streak on Friday.While Azarenka has improved tremendously over the past few months, she is yet to prove that she can topple Sharapova since her injury.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Three Sets