Sharapova Battles Into Quarterfinals
Published March 24, 2014 12:14
Based on their history, it looked like a little bit of a mismatch going in - Sharapova had won all four of the pair's previous meetings in straight sets, in fact losing a total of just 11 games across their last three meetings. But sometimes that can work against you - this was almost one of those times.
The No.19-seeded Flipkens came out on fire, ripping huge forehands and knifing slice backhands, her mix of power and touch helping her take a set from Sharapova for the first time in her career, 6-3. And after falling behind 4-0 in the second set, the crafty Belgian won four of the next five games to get all of the breaks back - she stepped up to serve at 4-5, only a few games from a straight set victory.
But Sharapova is a Career Grand Slam-holder and former World No.1 for a reason. She tightened the screws, cut down on her unforced errors and seized the momentum right when she needed it - the No.4-seeded Russian broke at love to take the second set, 6-4, and then rolled to a 36 64 61 victory.
"I usually like playing first match on, but I didn't start off the way I wanted to," Sharapova said after the match. "Nothing was working in the first set. Yeah, that's just the way it went in the beginning.
"She's a different type of opponent. There aren't too many girls that hit a slice backhand 90% of the time in the rallies. You expect that because she's been around for a long time, and it shouldn't be that much of a surprise, but I wasn't doing too much from my end and made a lot of mistakes from the first ball, which gives your opponent that confidence and the time they need to do whatever they want.
"It was about finding that combination of getting something in to give her something to play with."
Every time she has passed the fourth round in Miami she has made it all the way to the final. She has been to five finals here - 2005, 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013 - but has finished runner-up every time.
It was about as sharp a turnaround as possible - Ivanovic had game points in just two of those 12 games in the second and third sets, with Kvitova winning eight of the other 10 at love or at 15.
Sharapova leads Kvitova in their head-to-head, 4-2, winning their last three meetings in a row.