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US Open 2019: Serena Williams Vs Maria Sharapova, Round 1, Preview and Prediction

ANALYST
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205   //    26 Aug 2019, 14:48 IST

Serena Williams(L) and Maria Sharapova
Serena Williams(L) and Maria Sharapova

The final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open 2019 is all set to witness an epic, blockbuster showdown on its very first day as the two stalwarts of the women’s game, the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will take on her arch-rival Maria Sharapova in an iconic first round encounter at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The younger of the Williams sisters, Serena, has been plagued by injuries and multiple retirements and withdrawals from tournaments thus far this year. Williams has gone through an indifferent run in 2019 and her straight-sets losses at the French Open and Wimbledon earlier this year have raised questions over her ability to win any more Grand Slam titles in her career.

Serena’s opponent Sharapova, who underwent a shoulder surgery earlier this year in February, has struggled too to find any rhythm and form so far this year.

Following her comeback after she was forced to retire owing to a left forearm issue in her very first round at Wimbledon this year, the 32-year old Russian succumbed to early exits in Toronto and Cincinnati in her comeback trail in the lead up to final Major of the year.

In their head-to-head count on the WTA tour, Williams has dominated her Russian opponent with a thumping margin of 19-2 so far, and the nature of their rivalry is so intense that the American would not at all stand losing to Sharapova in their upcoming encounter.

While the pair has met on eight occasions at Grand Slams in the past, they have never faced each other at Flushing Meadows so far and their upcoming meeting at the US Open is their first ever clash in the first round at any tournament on the tour.

The last of Sharapova’s two victories over the 37-year-old American came 15 years ago when the Russian overcame Serena 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 at the WTA Tour Championships in 2004.

Off late, Serena’s movement on court has been restricted by her ageing body and injury concerns and Sharapova would aim to take an advantage of this situation by going for outright, pinpoint accurate and lethal winners of her racket, thereby putting a stranglehold on her biggest rival.

With injury concerns and her lopsided defeat against Simona Halep in the final at Wimbledon, Williams might not start as a title favourite at this year’s US Open, but certainly has a clear edge over her Russian opponent in their first round encounter, who has appeared to be vulnerable and circumspect following her losses at Toronto and Cincinnati.

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At the Arthur Ashe, on her home turf, Serena would enjoy a huge crowd support and that might just act as an added motivation for the six-time US Open champion to bring out her best game against her old foe.

With Williams and Sharapova in the twilight of their careers, there is a strong probability that we just might witness them taking on against each other, perhaps for one last time on the tour in their upcoming tussle.

Can Williams continue her unbelievable run over Sharapova or will the Russian find a way to end her 18-match losing streak against the veteran American?

The Arthur Ashe stadium at New York promises to add a new chapter to the historic Williams-Sharapova rivalry in their upcoming first round encounter.

Prediction: Serena Williams to win in three sets.

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