Williams dominates rivalry with Sharapova

Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova – not so much sporting heavyweight title clash as undisputed world No.1 going to work on punching bag.

That’s the inescapable lesson to draw from the last 17 meetings between the two biggest names in women’s sport.

The rivalry started superbly, with Williams winning their first encounter and Sharapova claiming the next two later in the year, including their 2004 Wimbledon final.

Then came an epic semi at the 2005 Australian Open, with the American scraping home in a thriller.

“I just remember hitting an inside out forehand when I was down match point,” said Williams.

“I remember hitting it as hard as I could.

“I remember obviously winning, and that was really great.”

Since that moment, Williams has done a heck of a lot of winning against Sharapova – and most times it hasn’t even been close.

The 34-year-old has dropped just three sets in their past 17 clashes – which include a 6-3 7-6 (7-5) triumph in last year’s Australian Open final – heading into Tuesday’s quarter-final at Melbourne Park.

“Every match is new,” said Williams, already the holder of a record six Australian Open women’s crowns in the professional era.

“She always brings in something new and something special.

“She’s very consistent as well.

“She’s one player that’s always consistently winning and training and working hard and winning matches.”

Just – as it happens – not against Williams.

The fifth-seeded Sharapova – who won her sole Australian Open title back in 2008 – has been in good form in the first week, dropping just one set to American Lauren Davis in her first four matches.

“I’ve got myself into the quarter-final of a grand slam and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be looking to improve and to getting my game in a better position than any other previous round,” said Sharapova.

“It’s only going to be tougher, especially against Serena.”

If Sharapova was looking for any small positive to hang her hat on, she may have been slightly encouraged by Williams’ thoughts on which of the two would be under the most pressure on Tuesday.

“The person who’s winning could definitely feel the pressure because there is a lot of expectations,” said the American.

“The person who is losing may think `well, I have lost X amount in a row; I don’t have anything to lose’.

“But in this situation, I don’t have anything to lose because I’m just here – every tournament for me is just a bonus at this point in my career.

“So it’s an interesting place to be at.”


Williams leads 6-1 at grand slams

2004 Wimbledon, grass, F, Sharapova 6-1 6-4

2005 Australian Open, hard, SF, Williams 2-6 7-5 8-6

2007 Australian Open, hard, F, Williams 6-1 6-2

2010 Wimbledon, grass, R16, Williams 7-6 (11-9) 6-4

2013 French Open, clay, F, Williams 6-4 6-4

2015 Australian Open, hard, F, Williams 6-3 7-6 (7-5)

2015 Wimbledon, grass, SF, Williams 6-2 6-4


Age: 34

Ranking: 1

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US74,083,421 ($A108.15 million)

Career titles: 69

Grand slam titles: 21 (Australian Open 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2105; French Open 2002, 2013, 2015; Wimbledon 2002-03, 2009-10, 2012, 2015; US Open 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012-2014)

Career win-loss record: 741-123

Australian Open win-loss record: 72-9

Best Australian Open results: champion 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015


Age: 28

Ranking: 5

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US36,484,486 ($A53.26 million)

Career titles: 35

Grand slam titles: 5 (Australian Open 2008; French Open 2012, 2014; Wimbledon 2004; US Open 2006)

Career win-loss record: 601-144

Australian Open win-loss record: 52-11

Best Australian Open result: champion 2008

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