In men’s tennis we often hear how the great Roger Federer has had a problem throughout his illustrious career – Rafael Nadal.
The saying goes that it basically doesn’t matter how well Roger is playing (or how terrible Rafa is playing) the smart money is to bet on the Spaniard.
Rafa has an ace in the hole. The southpaw knows that when all else fails he can simply hammer away at Roger’s one-handed backhand (a far more difficult shot than a two-hander) and simply wait for it the break down. It is why he currently enjoys a 19-10 record against the Swiss maestro.
But at least Federer has managed 10 wins!
If Rafael Nadal has been Federer’s Achilles heel then what has Serena Williams been to Maria Sharapova?
This past weekend in Miami, Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova (yet again) to win the Sony Ericsson Open. For those keeping count, that now gives the American an 12-2 career advantage over the Russian beauty.
But it gets even worse!
Serena has won the last eleven meetings between the two – most of them in lopsided fashion (Maria has not defeated the world’s number one player since 2004)!
In the women’s final of the Sony Ericsson Open, Sharapova played her best tennis against Serena, winning the first set 6-4 (the last time Maria took a set off Serena, Barack Obama was not yet President of the United States). She found herself up a break and serving at 3-2 in the second set before Serena completely turned the match around, winning the final ten games for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory (see video highlights below).
“I look forward to our next matches,” said Serena. “It’s going to be really fun for the fans and for us and for everyone.”
Fun for everyone that is, except Sharapova!
Her strengths (return of serve) become neutralized (thanks to the best serve in the history of women’s tennis). Her weaknesses (lack of mobility) become exposed. She is lauded for her fighting spirit yet is seemingly dispatched with ease, and the player who seems to outhit almost every other player on the WTA is forced to become the scrambler and the retriever.
At this point I bet deep down that not even the Russian believes that she’ll ever win a match against Serena.
How can she, given their history?