Friday, May 09, 2014

2014 MADRID: Serena Gives Kvitova Walkover, Sharapova Outlasts Li

Serena Williams withdrew from Madrid, ruining her chances for a 3rd consecutive title here, citing an upper thigh injury. Serena still intends to play the Rome tournament, which starts on Monday, and of course the French Open. Last year she was undefeated on clay, and is currently the defending champion at Madrid, Rome and Paris. This year she has already lost on clay to World #78 Jana Cepelova in Charleston.

With Serena out of the tournament, the likely winner would seem to be whoever won the clash between two former Roland Garros champions, World #2 Li Na and the second-best clay court player on the women's tour, Maria Sharapova. Sharapova won that fight, coming back from behind to win 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3, improving her head-to-head to 10-5. Sharapova will next face Agnieska Radwanska in the semifinals. Masha leads Aga 9-2 in their career head-to-head and has never lost to her on clay. (In fact the only person to beat Sharapova on clay for the last two years is Serena Williams, and Serena has done it three times in that time periods). The other half of the draw has Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep, both of whom would make interesting foils for Sharapova in Sunday's final.

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