Maria Sharapova heads into the final of the Australian Open in Melbourne this Saturday as the outsider against Victoria Azarenka – but the Russian has every chance of adding to her haul of three Grand Slam titles.
She is currently 6/4 to win the title and that could prove to be a shrewd bet to take on.
Sharapova has been incredibly impressive in Melbourne and her semi-final victory over Kim Clijsters showed her at her combative best, grinding out an excellent win in three sets.
The World No.4 has only dropped two sets in her march to the final and has emerged victorious in three of her five Grand Slam finals to date – but everything looks set for this to be an incredibly close game.
In fact, things are so tight at the top of the women’s game that a victory for either of these players would see them climb to the top of the world rankings – and it’s Azarenka who has the narrow advantage according to Ladbrokes.
She is 4/6 to win her maiden Grand Slam title and boasts a better head-to-head record against Sharapova in recent seasons.
The Belarusian has won two of their last three meetings – both on hard courts and both in straight sets.
However, this is her first ever Grand Slam final and, following her defeat in the final at Wimbledon last season, this will now be Sharapova’s sixth.
Despite being just two years older than Azarenka, Shapapova has a wealth of experience and backing her to win 2-1 and reclaim her position as the world’s No.1 looks well worth a punt at 10/3.