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Miami Final Preview

Maria Sharapova attempts to become just the third player to complete the Indian Wells-Miami double when she takes on Serena Williams on Saturday afternoon.

Published March 28, 2013 11:59

Miami Final Preview
Maria Sharapova

MIAMI, FL, USA - The final of the Sony Open Tennis pits the world's top two players against one another as Serena Williams takes on five-time champion Serena Williams.

Saturday, Final

Stadium
[1] Serena Williams (USA #1) vs. [3] Maria Sharapova (RUS #2)
Head-to-head:
Williams leads 11-2
Despite spending their formative years in Compton and Sochi respectively, it was the hardcourts of southern Florida where Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova received the bulk of their tennis schooling. Therefore, for both players, who now occupy the top two positions in the WTA rankings, the tour's two-week stopover in Miami is something of a homecoming.

And over the years, the city has offered the warmest of welcomes for its returning daughters; since 2002, there has been just one final that has not featured either Williams or Sharapova. However, their fortunes in these finals could not have been more contrasting. Williams has won a record-equaling five titles (losing two others in 1999 and 2009), while Sharapova has lost on each of her four appearances.

The most recent of these disappointments came 12 months ago, when she was edged out in two sets by an inspired Agnieszka Radwanska, and, unfortunately for the Russian, the history books do not auger well for her chances of making it fifth time lucky.

Since gate crashing tennis' top table with back-to-back wins over Williams at Wimbledon and the WTA Championships in 2004, Sharapova has been forced to play second fiddle in the head-to-head stakes. In fact, such has been Williams' dominance of late that she has dropped a paltry 21 games in their past five meetings, including a 60 61 master class with the Golden Slam on the line at last summer's Olympics.

Nevertheless, one thing not lacking in Sharapova's makeup is self-belief; she is riding high on an 11-match, 22-set, winning streak and if she can replicate the display of controlled baseline aggression produced against Jelena Jankovic in the semifinal then she can trouble Williams, who has shown the odd sign of fallibility this fortnight.

Final Thoughts
Williams:
"I just feel like I love playing her. I love seeing her on the opposite side, because she just brings out a good game. I just like the challenge of playing someone who has made history and who is doing so well. I just want to play well against a great player."

Sharapova: "She's a tremendous athlete, has so much power, and she's a confidence player, as well. So if you have a few easy games where, you know, you're not stepping in, not playing the way you should be, she takes really good advantage of it."

Road To The Final
Serena Williams
First Round: bye
Second Round: d. Flavia Pennetta, 61 61 (1:17)
Third Round: d. Ayumi Morita, 63 63 (1:15)
Fourth Round: d. Dominika Cibulkova, 26 64 62 (1:57)
Quarterfinals: d. Li Na, 63 76(5) (1:50)
Semifinals: d. Agnieszka Radwanska, 60 63 (1:05)

Maria Sharapova
First Round: bye
Second Round: d. Eugenie Bouchard, 62 60 (0:57)
Third Round: d. Elena Vesnina, 64 62 (1:49)
Fourth Round: d. Klara Zakopalova, 62 62 (1:18)
Quarterfinals: d. Sara Errani, 75 75 (2:29)
Semifinals: d. Jelena Jankovic, 62 61 (1:03)

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