Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will be squaring off for the 21st time in their careers when they clash in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Tuesday. This is, of course, one of the most well-documented “rivalries” in all of tennis. Williams is dominating the head-to-head series 18-2 and she has won 17 in a row dating back to the start of the 2005 season, at which point Sharapova held an extremely brief 2-1 advantage.
Sharapova upset Williams twice in 2004; first in the Wimbledon final and again at the year-end championship in Los Angeles. Since then, this matchip has been an unmitigated disaster for the Russian. Things have gone from bad to worse, too, for Sharapova in terms of her performances against Williams. A whopping 14 consecutive sets have gone in favor of the American since she dropped the first set of their 2013 Miami encounter.
“Every match is new,” Williams said, perhaps trying to force herself to refrain from getting overconfident. “You know, she always brings in something new and something special. She’s very consistent, as well. She knows how to be one player that’s always consistently winning and training and working hard and winning matches. I just feel like I’m really confident in my game right now–not against her or against any other opponent. I’m just really looking at me right now, and I feel like if I can just continue to play well, then it could be good.”
Good would be an understatement for the world No. 1 so far in Melbourne. She has not dropped a set through four rounds and she has won six straight sets by scorelines no more competitive than 6-2. Sharapova has also benefited from a favorable draw, although one that was far more difficult than that of Williams during the first week. The No. 5 seed needed three sets to beat Lauren Davis last Friday before holding off Belinda Bencic 7-5, 7-5 in the last 16. Bencic is the only seed either one of these two players has faced.
Every edge–including current form and head-to-head history–in this one goes to Williams, who should be expected to extend her sets streak to 16 and matches streak to 18 at Sharapova’s expense.
Prediction – Williams in straight sets
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