For the fourth time this season, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic will cross paths on the WTA Tour. All three meetings this season were anticipated clashes, with their most recent one ending in a fair bit of controversy. Sharapova leads the overall head-to-head series 8-4, yet Ivanovic has won their most recent two encounters.
While two players were given walkovers into the semi-final round of the tournament, Maria Sharapova was not one of them. The Russian star was forced to contest her second match in as many weeks against Svetlana Kuznetsova, who led the match last week in Wuhan before Sharapova stormed back to finish off strong in the third set. This time, however, Sharapova dominated the encounter and only allowed her fellow Russian on the scoreboard four times during the entire match for a final score of 6-0, 6-4.
“We’ve always had very difficult matches, and the one in Wuhan was no different. It was very physical with a lot of long rallies, and I had a little bit of a slow start there,” Sharapova commented. “I definitely wanted to do that differently this time, which I was happy with today. I think I played very aggressively. I controlled most of the points. I didn’t allow her to get many balls back. It became a little bit trickier in the second set. I thought she played really great defense. But even if I was down a break, I felt like she was doing most of the running, and I was happy to win the match in two sets.”
Ivanovic was one of the two players who received a walkover into the semi-final round, after her opponent Simona Halep withdrew from the tournament with a hip injury.
“It was a very tough match we had in Cincinnati – I was just a point away from winning the match,” Sharapova recalled. “It was a tough one to lose. I felt like I was down and out, and then I gave myself a chance to get back into it. I’ll be looking to get a better start this time than I did over there.
“She’s playing really well. She’s been playing really well so far this year, very consistent. “I always look forward to our matches – I think they’re always competitive.”
This marks the 13th time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour and the fourth time this year. While Sharapova leads the overall series, Ivanovic has won their two most recent encounters for a 2-1 lead this season. While determining the winner in this particular encounter is a tall task, one can confidently predict an exciting encounter between two of the top competitors on the WTA tour.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Three Sets