This is the final I predicted in the preview picks piece ahead of this event and whilst that may not have seemed like the most difficult prediction to make from the outset, both these women can be prone to sudden upsets and both, especially Sharapova, have shown remarkable consistency to make it through to the showpiece match.
It’s true that both at Indian Wells and over the last week or so in Florida, Maria has had lots of luck with her draws. The Russian hasn’t yet had to face any of her closest rivals at the top of the world rankings yet has one big title already in the bag and has booked a place in the final of another big event.
Nevertheless, with successive quarter-final victories over Erani, and ruthless, powerful, highly effective displays against the likes of Wozniacki, Kirilenko and Jankovic, Maria has come through plenty of battles which would have seen her slip up in the past.
On Saturday night in Miami, Sharapova will finally face one of the real heavyweights of the game, in the shape of Serena Williams and it will be a chance to see just how well she is playing and what form she may be in for the Grand Slams ahead.
The run Serena put in across the second half of 2012 was nothing short of incredible and it was widely expected that the US no.1 would pick up where she left off in 2013. In honesty, things haven’t gone too badly for Serena so far this year but a disappointing exit in the last 8 at the Australian Open combined with her traditional ‘no show’ at Indian Wells, has left the tennis world feeling that until this week, we haven’t seen much of Serena in 2013.
The 31-year-old has been in highly impressive form in Miami this week. Having lost just one set, to Cibulkova, on route to the final, the emphatic 6-0, 6-3 victory over Radwanska in the semis showed that Serena is exactly where she needs to be, ahead of a final match-up with one of her biggest rivals.
As you may imagine, these two have met on many occasions down the years, but somewhat astonishingly, Maria Sharapova has only beaten Serena twice in her career.
Serena has recorded 11 victories over the Russian and won their most recent encounter, in straight sets, just a month ago in Doha.
In fact, the last time Sharapova defeated Serena was in Los Angeles all the way back in 2004. That victory did come hot on the heels of Sharapova’s first Wimbledon title when she beat Williams in the SW19 final.
The most disturbing stat of all for Sharapova is that she hasn’t even taken a set off Serena since 2008. An unbelievable statistic considering that this pair are currently the top two in the world rankings.
Considering the form Sharapova has been in this year, the 3/1 on offer for her to defeat Serena in Saturday night’s final looks like fantastic value for our tennis picks.
For me, this is probably the best chance Maria has had to defeat Serena for a long time and although I picked Serena to win this event at the start and have watched her demolish opponents all week long, I really can’t help but be tempted by those tennis odds for a world no.2 in a two-horse-race.
My head says Serena, but I’m going to take the bookies on at 3/1.Sharapova to win – Ladbrokes – 3/1