by Karen

I absolutely adore women’s tennis.  The passion that drives these women makes me stay up all hours of the day and night just to watch them compete.   

Tonight or tomorrow or whenever it is, World No. 1, Serena Williams, 18 times a Grand Slam champion, will meet World No. 2 and 5 time Grand Slam champion, Maria Sharapova for the right to be called Australian Open ladies champ.  

I don’t know whether this is the match that many were hoping for when the draw came out.  I know that I was a bit sceptical of Serena’s form coming in as she did not seem to be playing up to par.  However, ever since the quarter-finals, it is as if a light bulb has gone off and her game has really started to come together.  Sharapova has had to do the same thing, except that her transition started after her second round match when she had to save match points to avoid a second round defeat at the hands of Alexandra Panova, ranked 150 in the world.  

On paper and looking at the matches one would say that Sharapova has had an easier time of it but stats don’t lie, and even though Serena has struggled mightily in her matches, the stats say that she is not only playing better tennis, but she is also playing cleaner tennis. 

What is the X-factor that will tell us who will win this match?  I think it will go down as to who wants it more.  Serena is on a mission.  Her mission is to tie and possibly unseat Steffi Graf.  Her coach, who seems to be motivating her beyond belief, has his eyes set on Serena doing the calendar year Grand Slam.  He believes she can do it, and I can’t imagine that Serena herself does not believe that as well.  Sharapova just wants to keep adding to her Grand Slam count.  If that is all she wants, then there won’t be that fire in the belly to push her as much as it will be pushing Serena. However, the other thing to take into account is this … is Sharapova ready and able to finally stop the 15 match, 10 year losing streak to Serena? If she is, then this should act as an impetus for her to play clean, first strike tennis. If she is not, then the outcome of this match, like many matches will rest on Serena’s shoulders. 

This will be a tight one and for me it is too close to call. 

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