When Serena Williams’ semi-final Wimbledon opponent was confirmed, the world number one would have been forgiven for letting her hotel know she’d definitely be staying on into the weekend.
Other than cancellation fees being of little concern to the 20-time Grand Slam winner, it is over 10 years since Maria Sharapova has defeated the American.
That is a run of 17 matches across all surfaces. Five of those losses have arrived in Grand Slam competitions, the last of which was their previous collision in Melbourne, where Williams picked up her sixth Australian Open title in January.
There is no quibble with the way Ladbrokes have priced up the match odds therefore. Serena is a 1/5 chance to continue doing what she always does against Sharapova, while the number four seed is 7/2 to finally triumph over her nemesis.
Could the Russian really do it? There is actually genuine scope that Sharapova could yet emulate her finest Wimbledon hour in 2004 when it was Serena Williams she defeated in the final.
Despite Serena enjoying another superb campaign where the first two majors of the year are already banked, Sharapova is also in top form in 2015.
Their seasonal win-loss records are not very far apart. Williams’ tally stands at 39-3, with Sharapova having won 34 of her 40 matches.
The ladies are both 5-0 on grass having set up this clash, though it’s the favourite who has actually looked more vulnerable in SW19, being taken the distance twice and very nearly losing out to Britain’s Heather Watson.
Over the course of her quarter final triumph meanwhile, Sharapova won more net points, break points and receiving points percentage wise than Williams, with both women going the distance in their respective ties.
The Russian has been getting closer to her ultimate goal of ending this miserable string of results in recent times as well; forcing tiebreaks in two of the pair’s last three clashes only to come out second best in each one.
Also, the pair have not met at Wimbledon since 2010, when Sharapova lost narrowly again on that occasion 7-6, 6-4.
The psychological baggage is clearly the major hindrance for the underdog, but at the peak of her powers once more heading into this last-four battle, brave punters may just be well rewarded.
A tiebreak in the match looks one of the best bets at 11/4 also, as does over 20.5 total games at 4/5.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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