Serena and Sharapova set for French Open bids | Pakistan Today

Serena and Sharapova set for French Open bids

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, two players better known for their hardcourt and grasscourt abilities, are the form players going into the climax of the claycourt season at the French Open. Between them they won the four main leadup events on the surface at Charleston and Madrid for the American and at Stuttgart and Rome for the Russian. The question is whether one of them can sustain their form through two weeks and seven matches in the often unpredictable playing conditions that are a mark at the famed Roland Garros complex on the western edge of Paris.
Williams, whose only win here came 10 years ago when she defeated sister Venus in the final, has staged yet another impressive return to form in recent weeks. The 30-year-old defeated Lucie Safarova in the final at Charleston before pounding world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3 to take the Madrid Open title at the start of May. She subsequently withdrew from the semi-finals of last week’s Italian Open with a lower back injury but has expressed confidence she will be fully fit to challenge for the title in Paris. “I’m feeling better on clay than I did at the US Open (where she lost in the final to Samantha Stosur). I have a better ranking and my fitness is better,” the 13-time Grand Slam champion said.. “I just feel better this time around. I feel I can play on any surface and that’s the right attitude for me. I’m enjoying my tennis. This is where I belong and what I do best.” Sharapova, at 25, is a late convert to claycourt tennis having once described her movement on the slippy red dirt surface as being “like a cow on ice”.
She reached the semi-finals last year before losing to eventual champion Li Na and it was the Chinese player she defeated last weekend to defend her Italian Open crown in Rome. She also chalked up a straight sets win over Azarenka in the final at Stuttgart, a win that followed losses to the Belarussian in the finals at the Australian Open and Indian Wells. But her only encounter so far this year with Serena Williams resulted in a 6-1, 6-3 thumping in the quarter finals in Madrid.
There is also the question of whether Sharapova’s notoriously inconsistent serve can survive through two weeks of outdoor conditions with gusts of wind whipping up the dirt particles and causing all sorts of havoc.



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