Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova renew hostilities in the Australian Open final and it’s the American who is tipped to extend her long-running hoodoo over the Russian after some early troubles.
It’s no secret in the women’s game that the younger Williams sister and five-time winner of the Aussie Open has got inside the mind of 2008 champion Sharapova, defeating her 15 times consecutively over the past 10 years.
This iron grip over her opponent makes Serena a worthy 4/11 favourite and Sharapova a little too skinny at 9/4 as the underdog, so we’ve come at this contest from three different angles instead.
Sharapova to win the first set @ 7/4
If the number one seed has looked vulnerable at Melbourne Park en-route to the finale, it has certainly been in the early exchanges of her matches.
Williams dropped opening sets in the third and fourth rounds to far weaker opponents and was forced into a tie-break in her semi-final clash against compatriot Madison Keys, while Sharapova, in contrast, has shot out of the blocks with real purpose.
The second seed has won all six first sets to help propel her into the final, gaining a double break in each of her last three matches to claim them 6-3; a scoreline available at 10/1 with Ladbrokes.
Who will break first? Sharapova @ 11/8
This bet has legs given Sharapova has broken her adversary’s serve at least twice in her previous five opening sets, while Serena was nine percent down to her on 1st serve points won in her semi.
To lose the first set and win the match: Williams @ 9/2
One thing above all else which marks Serena out as such a formidable champion is her powers of recovery and utter will to win when faced with adversity.
The American number one has already pulled off two comeback victories Down Under during this tournament and when she last conceded a set to her big rival Sharapova in 2013, she came back to blow the Russian away 6-3, 6-0 on hard courts.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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