Madrid Day 7 Preview
Published May 10, 2012 08:20
MADRID, Spain - A star-studded quarterfinal Friday at the Mutua Madrid Open will include 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams against three-time Grand Slam titlist Maria Sharapova and current World No.1 Victoria Azarenka versus reigning French Open champion Li Na.
 Maria Sharapova (RUS #2) vs.  Serena Williams (USA #9)
Head-to-head: Williams leads 7-2
After winning two of her first three meetings with Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova has lost six straight. This will be just their second encounter on clay, with Williams coming out on top in their first in the Charleston quarterfinals in 2008. However, Sharapova's confidence on the dirt may be higher than ever, as she is coming off a title in Stuttgart and two convincing victories in Madrid before getting a walkover win over Lucie Safarova on Thursday. Williams is rolling too, with a 20-2 record on the year, including 10-0 on clay. However, her 17-set clay court winning streak did come to an end in the first set of her third round triumph here over Caroline Wozniacki.
"She's been playing really well and has the upper hand going into tomorrow's match with so much momentum in winning in Stuttgart," Williams said. "I'm going out there with nothing to lose and that's always a good position to be in."
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR #1) vs.  Li Na (CHN #8)
Head-to-head: Li leads 4-3
The quarterfinals have been Li Na's roadblock of late, as she has lost in that round in three straight events. She is in especially good form in Madrid, though, having not lost a set in three matches - including an impressive triumph over the red-hot Angelique Kerber in the third round. And she has a winning record against quarterfinal foe Victoria Azarenka, highlighted by straight set victories at the Australian Open and French Open (their one previous meeting on clay) last year. However, Azarenka has won two in a row in their series since then. A runner-up here last year, the Belarusian also has not dropped a set this week in improving her record this season to 32-2.
[Q] Varvara Lepchenko (USA #77) vs.  Agnieszka Radwanska (POL #3)
Head-to-head: Radwanska leads 2-0
Although yet to drop a set in Madrid, Agnieszka Radwanska was pushed for the first time in the third round against Roberta Vinci, but as she has done in every match this year against anyone not named Victoria Azarenka, she prevailed. Varvara Lepchenko is having a dream event, coming through qualifying and taking down in order, 2010 French Open champion and current World No.11 Francesca Schiavone (her best career win in terms of ranking), former World No.11 Shahar Peer and active clay court titles leader Anabel Medina Garrigues. By virtue of that, she has matched her deepest tournament runs - quarterfinal showings in Ponte Vedra Beach in 2010 and in Memphis earlier this year. Although she has fallen short in both of her previous encounters with Radwanska, Lepchenko has held her own in each of them.