Following their quarter-final clash in Paris earlier this season, former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova and world No. 23 Kirsten Flipkens will meet for a spot in the quarter-final round of the Sony Open in Miami. Sharapova holds an undefeated 4-0 record in the head-to-head series.
World No. 7 Maria Sharapova had to overcome two missed match points to defeat Lucie Safarova in three sets on Saturday evening. After winning the first set comfortably 6-4, Sharapova appeared to be en route to victory as she worked her way back from a 1-4 deficit in the second set to even the score at 4-4. She would soon push the match to a tiebreak and would hold a pair of match points, yet Safarova saw them off and forced the match into a decider.
While the third set was not as competitive, Safarova saved six more match points before losing 6-2 in the third.
“When you’re in that situation you have to think selfishly, because you want to be the one winning the match at the end, obviously,” Sharapova commented. “But when you come off the court at the end, it’s tough to have only one winner, because both players have given a lot and both want to win so much. But I’ve been there a lot, and at this point in my career, especially after not playing for so long last year, these are the kinds of matches I need. These are the kinds of matches I need to build my strength, where I need to feel my shoulder is holding up and I can hit a serve over 1000 miles an hour.
“So these matches are really important for me right now.”
19th seed Kirsten Flipkens arrived at the fourth round in Miami courtesy of a walkover when her scheduled opponent, Germany’s Sabine Lisicki was forced to withdraw from the event with the flu. Prior to that, she had defeated France’s Virginie Razzano 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
Sharapova holds an undefeated 4-0 record against Flipkens and will be determined to extend that record as she furthers her quest for a first ever Sony Open title. In their four meetings spanning over 11 years, Flipkens has never managed to win a set against the Russian and will likely face a similar challenge on Monday afternoon.