Things have reached the business end of the tournament as the women’s singles champion will be decided at the Australian Open 2015 on Saturday. The line up has a familiar ring to it and the seedings as well as pre tournament predictions have come good as the American world no 1 Serena Williams takes on the world no. 2 Maria Sharapova of Russia. Both players though have looked not as ruthless as they have been known to be in the past and can be satisfied somewhat with a runner up finish. While Williams the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 & 2010 champion has been under par in most of her matches, Sharapova the 2008 champion could have been bundled out in the second round where she fought off two match points against qualifier and fellow Russian Alexandra Panova ranked 150 in the world. The Russian herself has termed her road to the final as “STRANGE”.
Williams, the winner of 18 grand slam titles has a comprehensive 16-2 head to head record against Sharapova whose last win against the American was in 2004. She is also the oldest player at the age of 33 in the Open Era to reach the final in Melbourne surpassing Chris Evert and few would bet against her loosing in what would be her 23rd major final. Sharapova though would have other ideas playing in her fourth Australian final and will attempt to win her 6th grand slam career title. She won the warm up event in Brisbane and is in a good position to end her loosing streak to Serena.
The Russian had beaten her compatriot Ekaterina Makarova five times previously and was rarely troubled by the no. 10 seed winning 6-3, 6-2 on a blustery afternoon on Rod Laver Arena. Williams ensured that she would hold on to the world no 1 WTA ranking as she overcame a hesitant start to before turning things around in a first set tie break before winning 7-6(5), 6-2 against fellow American Madison Keys who was unseeded here. The 19 year old coached by the former great American Lindsay Davenport had beaten the reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the round of 32 was inevitably overpowered in the second set. Had Williams lost in the semi final, a win for Sharapova would have meant that the Russian would have regained the no 1 ranking. Her confidence at the moment looks good and I expect her to rise to the occasion and win her second Australian Open title. Needless to say the crowd can expect their money’s worth in what would be the most eagerly anticipated final for quite some time.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@ ]