Friday, March 29, 2013

MIAMI 2013: Serena v. Sharapova in Final!

Getty/Clive Brunskill
World #2 Maria Sharapova has been in the final of the Miami tournament four times but never claimed the title, losing to Kim Clijsters (2005), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2006), Victoria Azarenka (2011) and Agnieska Radwanska (2012). This year she will face arguably her biggest test in the final, World #1 Serena Williams. Williams easily dispatched defending champion Radwanska, the World #4 player, 6-0 6-3 in a sparking display that included 40 winners and 21 errors in just 15 games played. Williams improved to 5-0 against the Polish Wimbledon finalist.

The Miami tournament, now called Sony Open Tennis, is considered by Serena to be her hometown tournament, since she owns a house with her sister Venus in nearby Palm Beach Gardens, although nowadays she spends more of her downtime in Paris. With her win yesterday Serena broke the record of Steffi Graf for the most wins ever at this tournament, and now sports a 60-7 record here.

Sharapova is also playing well, and she beat one of her least favorite people on the tour, Jelena Jankovic, 6-1 6-3, one day after outlasting pint-size dynamo Sara Errani 7-5 7-5 in a reprise of the 2012 French Open final.

However, Serena often seems to bring her best tennis to matches against Sharapova, whom she has a career head-to-head record of 9-2, with the two losses coming within 6 months of each other in 2004. She has not lost to the 4-time champion since. In fact, she has delivered memorable beat downs to Sharapova, like a 6-0 6-1 drubbing in the 2012 London Olympics gold medal match and a 6-1 6-2 win in the 2007 Australian Open final, the latter I think is the best Serena has ever played.

I seriously doubt she wil do so on Saturday.

MadProfessah's prediction: Serena (in straight sets).

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