Serena Williams looks to extend her good run against Maria Sharapova

Russian’s debut slam win as a teenager over American at Wimbledon in 2004 seems a long time ago

Form guide points to a win for Serena Williams (above) over Maria Sharapova.

Form guide points to a win for Serena Williams (above) over Maria Sharapova.

 


Vitas Gerulaitis famously said after beating Jimmy Connors in 1980 to end a run of 16 defeats against the American: “Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row.”

It was oft-quoted here yesterday, as we contemplated the fate of Maria Sharapova against Serena Williams in the final of the French Open today. But the Russian’s mien rarely encourages levity, so she goes to the scene of her daunting examination not with a light step but more like a stubborn Marie Antoinette, determined rather than buoyant about her chances of prevailing against the odds.

She wants not only to keep her crown but to end a sequence of 12 losses against the world number one. Sharapova was guarded yesterday but did admit she is trying not to think about her history against the most formidable presence in the women’s game.

Her debut slam win as a teenager over Williams at Wimbledon in 2004 seems a long time ago. “If I was thinking about it, that wouldn’t be a great mindset, to go into a match like that,” said Sharapova. “But, yeah, despite that record and despite me being unsuccessful against her, I believe that I’m happy to be setting up chances to be going out and facing her, someone who’s been playing and dominating tennis for almost a year now.

“Her success has been incredible. But going into a French Open final, that doesn’t matter. It all starts from zero.”

Williams was cautious too. Was she not encouraged by having not lost to Sharapova in nine years and allowing her just three sets from 27 in all that time? “Not really,” she said, “because it’s a different time, a different era, a different match.”
Guardian Service