Can Sharapova remove major road block to Wimbledon glory?
Andy Murray knows only too well what it’s like to face a nemesis on court, but even worse than his escalating problem with defeating Novak Djokovic is Maria Sharapova’s ongoing brain freeze when faced with Serena Williams.
There is of course a common thread; Murray and Sharapova are not just failing against any old opponents.
These are the recognised best players in their sport, but Grand Slam titles cease to accumulate unless such mountains can be scaled.
Murray hasn’t beaten Djokovic in eight matches since lifting the Wimbledon title in 2013, but for Sharapova it’s double that figure against the American powerhouse.
This horrific run when pitted against Williams Jnr now stretches all the way back to 2004, the same year the Russian landed her only SW19 crown.
Although Sharapova has claimed both the 2012 and 2014 French Open titles in recent years, the world number four also made the Australian Open showpiece at the start of the year.
Once again Serena triumhped, to win her seventh straight tournament final between the pair and her third straight in Slams.
Sharapova is one of the precious few to have completed the Career Slam herself of course, but since claiming her one and only Wimbledon victory as a teenager in 2004, the Russian star has only made one other final appearance in 2011, losing out to Petra Kvitova.
Now number four seed at Wimbledon for the 2015 edition, Sharapova looks in the mood to go deep again, having booked her third-round spot for the loss of only eight games.
However, with Serena in her half of the draw, Sharapova is still a 10/1 shot to be stood clutching the famous golden plate on the final Saturday.
If the draw pans out in line with seeding, a fourth-round tie against Andrea Petkovic should be negotiable based on a 3-1 head-to-head success which reads WLWW up to the present day.
The same can be said for either of her most likely last-eight opponents as well, in the form of sixth seed Lucie Safarova or 22nd seed Samantha Stosur, whom the 6ft 2” right-hander is also used to defeating, and particularly the latter (15-2).
However, it’s almost nailed on that Williams will be lying in wait in the semis. Although the last five losses have all arrived in straight sets, the matches are seldom one-sided which breeds hope.
Pivotally, two of the last three meetings have contained second-set tiebreaks which have gone the way of the American world number one.
Sharapova’s current price could be a corker if she can somehow break this hoodoo, or barring that, rely on a rare Williams shock exit.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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