Serena Williams (Player Info) continues her quest for a tenth title this season when she meets Maria Kirilenko (Player Info) in the third round of the China Open on Thursday afternoon. It marks the eighth time the two competitors meet on the professional tour. The Williams vs Kirilenko Head to Head stands at 7-0.
Williams has put together an outstanding WTA season this year with nine titles including two Grand Slam championships (Rolland Garros & US Open). Her US Open victory was a particularly impressive one as she beat Sloane Stephens, Li Na and Victoria Azarenka en route to her 17th Grand Slam title. She became the oldest player ever to achieve the No. 1 ranking when she regained the title in February.
The World No. 1 withdrew from the Tokyo event last week, citing fatigue following her US Open win. Since arriving in Beijing she has shown no signs of either injury or fatigue as she has breezed through the opening two rounds, defeating Elena Vesnina and Francesca Schiavone without dropping a set to bring her record to 69-4 this season. The former Beijing runner up will be looking to top her tournament-best performance in 2004 with by notching her first title in China.
While her singles performances have been outstanding, Serena, along with sister Venus, suffered a shocking first round exit in their doubles contest on Monday.
Maria Kirilenko is looking for her second WTA title of the season as well as her second in China. She will be looking to duplicate her 2005 performance in Beijing, where she defeated then-World No. 1 Maria Sharapova en route to reaching the finals, where she won in straight sets. She defeated hometown favourite Jie Zheng and Urszula Radwańska to reach the third round and will be focused on picking up her first victory over the top seed.
Considering Williams has defeated Kirilenko on every occasion on the tour, it is unlikely we will see an upset tomorrow, particularly with Serena’s current dominance on court. The two have already met twice this year with Williams picking up wins both on hard court and clay court. The Russian has only taken a set off Williams twice in their seven matches, highlighting the American’s longstanding advantage over her. While this may be the case, Serena was clearly agitated in her straight sets victory over Schiavone and was clearly disappointed with her shotmaking, even though she only lost 23 points in the entire match.
Who knows, this could lead to a thrilling encounter tomorrow evening.