Maria Sharapova’s comeback from a doping ban has been hampered by various injuries. Each time the Russian starts playing better, something just comes up out of nowhere. Recently, she’s been struggling with a recurring shoulder injury that has forced to withdraw from the Sunshine Double and the entire clay-court season. She snapped a three-match losing streak at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati by defeating Alison Riske, but was then crushed by the World No.2, Ashleigh Barty.
Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova
A lopsided rivalry
The rivalry between Sharapova and Serena Williams has been electrifying tennis fans all over the world for over 15 years already, but it was never really close. The Russian led Serena 2-1 back in 2004 (when Sharapova was just 17!) after taking her down in the Wimbledon final and at the WTA Championships. The 23-time Grand Slam champion never looked back, and took the next eighteen consecutive meetings, including three more Major finals (Australian Open 2007 and 2015, Roland Garros 2015).
They played each other pretty much everywhere but just like Federer and Nadal never did, not even once at the Flushing Meadows. Serena is a six-time winner of the event (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012-14). Maria Sharapova is also a former champion of the US Open (2006).
Serena’s biggest enemy – herself
The big question mark is Serena’s fitness. The American is on a quest to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam but has already failed three times at the last hurdle, including recently against Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final. Somehow, that one record is not allowing her to play her best at the biggest stage, making a seemingly fearless legend panic. She’s only played one tournament since that – the Rogers Cup where she reached the final (beating Naomi Osaka along the way). Unfortunately, she had to retire down 1-3 in the first set to Bianca Andreescu in the final due to back spasms. Following that, Serena pulled out of the Western & Southern Open.
The whole tennis world will be watching as the American will start another campaign to win that 24th Grand Slam. Maria Sharapova has nothing to lose, and it might be a great occasion for her to finally come out for a match against Serena with a clean slate. If they are both physically up to the task, we’re in for a classic.
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