>> Tuesday, May 15, 2012
World no. 2 Maria Sharapova is known for playing a strong and powerful game of tennis, but it's her stronger mental fortitude that brought her on-court results which has helped her become a three time Grand Slam champion, a former world no. 1, and the most marketable female professional athlete in the planet. Three weekends ago, she beat the three reigning Grand Slam champions including world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka to clinch her first clay event of the season in Stuttgart. But last week, Sharapova's tenacity was overwhelmed when she was beaten soundly by former world no. 1 Serena Williams 61 63 at the quarter-finals in Madrid.
In fact, Sharapova has not beaten Serena since 2004, more than seven years ago. After winning two of their first three matches including Sharapova's first major at Wimbledon, it was Serena who has won their last seven matches, the last three in straight sets. As Sharapova prepares to defend her Internazionali BNL d'Italia title in Rome, she acknowledges that it's Serena who is one of the biggest threat for her to retain her title. Serena has been a perfect 13-0 on clay this year winning tournaments in Charleston and last week at Madrid. Sharapova laments that Serena plays her better than Serena plays other players.
In an press conference in Rome, Sharapova remarked on Serena: "I see some of her previous matches and then she plays against me and produces 13 aces... What about the other matches? I am flattered that she likes to do that against me. She is serving very well and playing a second serve ace is also very tough for her as she goes for the lines. Clay court rallies are especially hard because they are long but obviously you have to believe you are strong."
Rome is Sharapova's last stop before she plays the 2012 French Open, the only Grand Slam missing in her resume. Her best performance in Roland Garros is reaching the semifinals in 2007 and 2011.
Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova Head-to-Head: Serena leads 8-2
2004 MIAMI HARD R16 S. Williams 6-4 6-3
2004 WIMBLEDON GRASS F M. Sharapova 6-1 6-4
2004 TOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS HARD F M. Sharapova 4-6 6-2 6-4
2005 AUSTRALIAN OPEN HARD S S. Williams 2-6 7-5 8-6
2007 AUSTRALIAN OPEN HARD F S. Williams 6-1 6-2
2007 MIAMI HARD R16 S. Williams 6-1 6-1
2008 CHARLESTON CLAY Q S. Williams 7-5 4-6 6-1
2010 WIMBLEDON GRASS R16 S. Williams 7-6(9) 6-4
2011 STANFORD HARD Q S. Williams 6-1 6-3
2012 MADRID CLAY Q S. Williams 6-1 6-3
Follow the exciting rivalry between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova at the Rome 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia.