The analysis: Sharapova won two of their first three meetings, all in 2004. Since then Williams has won 12 straight with Sharapova winning 3 sets in those 12 matches. Both players have excellent, aggressive return games and strong first serves, but Serena has a more consistent 2nd serve and has been steadier from the baseline.
Sharapova is playing extreme tennis – she’s on the edge at all times – going for winners and risking errors. Serena is the more consistent of the two – going for winners when she’s in position to do so, keeping the ball in play and deep when she isn’t in a winning position. Sharapova knows that she can’t beat Williams playing her same go for broke style – she’ll need to use a bit more spin and angle to open up the court and keep Serena off balance, and then go for the winning shot when she has the opening.
It will be a tough task for Sharapova to defend her title here – Serena looks unbeatable and she has been for Sharapova for the last nine years.
- Her serve is the biggest weapon in women’s tennis – 31 aces – winning 76% of 1st serves & 62% of 2nd serves – top speed 124 mph – lost serve just 4 times (all 4 against Kuznetsova in the QF)
- No safe place to hit to her – 63 forehand winners – 61 backhand winners – 176 total winners and just 100 unforced errors in 6 matches
- She’s broken serve in 63% of her return games (that’s equivalent of letting her opponents serve every game and still winning each match 6-4, 6-3)
- Her 1st serve is a weapon – 22 aces (12 in her semifinal) – winning 72% of those points
- Her 2nd serve is a risk reward shot – she will go for it, trying to hit lines and not backing down much in terms of speed – the results can be mixed – lots of aggressive 2nd serve and lots of double faults (26 in the tournament)
- Strong return of service – winning 46% vs. 1st serves – winning 57% vs. 2nd serves – she’s won almost half of her return games