Well, here we go again. Maria Sharapova will get another chance to prove she can overcome her greatest nemesis. After a dominant 6-2 6-1 victory over Jelena Jankovic in the 2013 Sony Open semifinals, Masha will face Serena Williams, who blew out Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-0 6-3. Serena has an 11-2 record against Masha, winning the last 10 in a row. Add the fact that Sharapova, who won Indian Wells, is looking to become only the third woman, after Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters, to pull off the Indian Wells-Miami back to back and history seems to be against Masha. What does she need to do to win? 1) Don’t fall behind. Serena is the best front runner in tennis. If she jumps on you early, it can be over quickly. At worst, Sharapova needs to keep it at 3-3, 4-4, 5-5…and maybe look for a loose game from Serena to break serve, or play for the tiebreak. Obviously, getting ahead would be best for Masha. But falling behind could spell quick defeat. 2) Keep unforced errors low. Masha only had 11 unforced errors against Jelena Jankovic. She will need a similar number against Serena. Williams is far too good to give free points. 3) Believe. Sharapova has not played well lately against Serena. She must put all of that out of her mind. She has to realize that for all of Serena’s talent, she doesn’t win 100% of her matches. She’s human. On a given day, if you can put enough pressure on her, she can be beaten. She has been beaten. If Masha can beat Vika, and she can, she should at the very least be competitive with Serena. We will see on Saturday.
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MARIA SHARAPOVA d. JELENA JANKOVIC, 6-2 6-1
SERENA WILLIAMS d. AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA, 6-0 6-3