By Tia Ko
Head-to-head, Serena Williams leads 17-2 with Maria Sharapova’s only wins coming in 2004 (Wimbledon final and the Tour Championships). Will today be her first victory in more than a decade against the 5-time Wimbledon champion? It’s obvious that Sharapova will have to play her best tennis if she wants a shot at the final and we’re here to give some key insights.
First, she will have to force Williams to play longer rallies; Williams takes a while to warm up and it will be important to get an early lead in the first set to set the momentum for the rest of the match.
Secondly, limit the amount of unforced errors. During Maria’s last four matches, her number of unforced errors has been almost equal (and sometimes more) than her number of winners. It will be hard to compete if Serena comes out hitting like she has been for her matches this week, hitting sometimes 3x more winners than unforced errors.
Finally, and most importantly, Sharapova has to make her serve work. Let’s give you some quick statistics from her quarterfinal match against Coco Vandeweghe: she got 60% of her 1st serves in, winning 73% of them; however, she only won 36% of her 2nd serves. Comparing this to Serena’s quarterfinal match versus Victoria Azarenka, Serena got 65% of her 1st serves in winning 80% of them while also winning 58% of her second serves. Maria will have to put more on her second serve if she wants to win those points because we’ve all witnessed how Williams can take advantage of a weak serve.
"There are definitely no secrets between each other's games, but it will be an incredible moment for me to step out on Centre Court against her again.” The world number four stated at an interview yesterday.
If she is able to stop Serena’s winning streak this afternoon she will play the winner of Garbine Muguuza (ESP)/Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) on Saturday afternoon.