Schedule: Sat 31st January 2015 , Rod Laver Arena. 8:30 GMT
Two of the WTA’s more unpopular presences in the locker room will meet in the Australian Open final. When two egos like this clash, somebody is bound to suffer. Between the two, they have earned nearly $100 million on the court and millions more in endorsements. This is truly a match between two winning corporations and brands as much as a match to win the tournament.
The pair has also dominated the tennis world’s Grand Slam events with Serena ($63,500,779) winning 18 titles and Russian-American Maria Sharapova ($32,730,228) grunting her way to 5 major titles. To add to the Super Bowl, the two rarely see eye-to-eye and do not like each other. That’s always fun, a catfight! There will be plenty of grunting and antics on the court and between points as the two both like to control the crowd, the pace of the match and cameras.
Maria has been brilliant since her near knockout by unlikely Russian upstart Alexandra Panova (6-1, 4-6, 7-5) in a contest where the underdog actually had successive match points before Maria took charge. Likewise, Serena narrowly escaped a strong challenge from Spain’s hard serving rising star, six foot Gabrine Muguruzu, (2-6, 6-3, 6-3). We will hear more from Muguruzu in 2015 but probably not so much from Panova. Interestingly, Serena was also pushed by another tall player, Madison Keys (5 foot 11 inch) in the semis and reportedly has a cold. Sharapova’s 6 foot 2 inch frame presents problems for Serena. With excellent reach, adequate foot speed and the stature to get a good look at the high kicking Williams serve, Maria is built for this matchup.
Okay, enough said. Maria has the stature but not the resume. In their 18 matches, Sharapova has won twice, helping to create the long odds. In fact, she has not defeated the American since 2004. It is difficult to see how she will pull the upset today.
Except that Williams has to tie her laces, get on the court and play her match. And, Maria is playing with uncommon efficiency. She is serving better than usual. Maria is competing at a high level, returning serve spectacularly and expects to win, unlike every other opponent Serena has faced. And, you know, I think the upset will happen here.
However, Serena is tough to bet against. She rises to the occasion and winning a 19th Grand Slam plays into her hand. And, every time she looks across the net, she sees a player she has owned since 2004, a stat even the biggest grunter in professional tennis can’t overlook.
I do not like the Serena bet so for me this is a “watch” bet. Take Sharapova and if she wins, you will feel good about it.