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Sharapova & Li To Clash In QFs

Maria Sharapova outdid Samantha Stosur at the Mutua Madrid Open to set up a tantalizing quarterfinal clash against Li Na. Who leads the pair's head-to-head?

Published May 08, 2014 12:15

MADRID, Spain - Maria Sharapova maintained her mastery of Sam Stosur at the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday to set up a tantalizing quarterfinal clash with Li Na at the Premier Mandatory event.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Madrid right here on!

The Plot
Though Sharapova had won her first nine meetings with Stosur, things had tightened up between the two in their last five meetings - three went to Sharapova, two to Stosur. And Stosur had match point in one of the losses, too - so, pretty much dead even. Stosur was also playing her best tennis in a long time - in the first round she upset Dominika Cibulkova, her first Top 10 win since last summer.

The Turning Point
Both players put on an impressive serving display throughout the match, particularly early on in the match, where nine games went by without a single break point - no one was even taken to deuce on their serve. And the pattern looked like it was going to continue as Stosur went up 30-15 serving at 4-5 - but Sharapova struck right then and there, winning three points in a row to take the first set, 6-4.

The two players held serve in the first five games of the second set as well, and after trading breaks in the next two games, Sharapova got the decisive break for 5-3 and served it out, 6-4, 6-3.

By The Numbers
The play was clean and aggressive from both sides, but Sharapova was just a little bit cleaner and just a little bit more aggressive - she put together a +5 differential of winners to unforced errors, 26 to 21, while Stosur was a slightly negative -1, 16 to 17. Sharapova moved on in exactly 90 minutes.

"Sam's a really great clay court player - she certainly loves playing on this surface and has had her best results here," Sharapova said of the former French Open finalist. "I tried to take my chances, and the first break point I got was the set point in the first set, and I'm pretty happy I could take that.

"There were a few ups and downs in the second set, but I'm really happy how I stepped up today."

What's Next
Awaiting Sharapova in the quarterfinals is another Grand Slam champion - this time a two-time Grand Slam champion - in Li, who won her match earlier in the day. Sharapova leads Li in their head-to-head, 9-5, winning four of their last five meetings, as well as their last two meetings on clay courts.

Though it might be daunting to play a WTA legend like Sharapova, there may have been a little bit of relief for Li - she has never beaten Stosur in their six career meetings, winning just one set.

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