First Andy Murray v Serena Williams - now Novak Djokovic says he'll take on Maria Sharapova

Mixed singles? After Williams says 'it would be fun' to play Murray, men's world number one throws down challenge to women's number three

Serena Williams has a formidable record for any female - or indeed male - competitor willing to take her on.

She's won 33 matches in a row, and 76 of her past 79. If she wins five more this fortnight, as almost everyone expects, Williams will earn a second consecutive Wimbledon title and 17th Grand Slam championship overall.

But then Andy Murray's hardly unseeded either, rated number 2 by the ATP

As the prospect of a match between the two, begun as a joke, begins to look a touch more real, some tennis pros say that despite Williams's abilities, she would not even be a match for the men's 350th seed.

After number 1 WTA-ranked Ms Williams beat 100th-ranked qualifier Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-2 to reach the third round at Wimbledon, the first question at her news conference concerned a suggestion by Murray - prompted by a fan's Twitter post - that the pair play each other.

"Really? He wants to play me? Is he sure?" Williams responded. "That would be fun. I doubt I'd win a point, but that would be fun.

"He's probably one of the top three people I definitely don't want to play.

"But maybe we can have a little bit of a showdown. That would be fine. I get (to use the doubles) alleys. He gets no serves. I get alleys on my serves, too."

Perhaps a little jealous at the thought of the frenzied interest such a match between the reigning Olympic and US Open champions would generate, Novak Djokovic thought he'd get in on the act too.

Asked if he would like to play any of the leading players on the women's tour, the men's number 1 had no hesitation.

"I'll play Sharapova anywhere she likes since Serena is already (playing Murray)," he said.

Djokovic and Sharapova, third-ranked in the women's game, have a playful relationship. During the pre-Wimbledon Boodles exhibition event he took delight in mimicking the Russian.

When he interrupted Ms Sharapova's press conference on Saturday, he was told that his impersonation was not up to scratch. Asked if he would imitate her during the match, he said he would take the contest seriously.

But of the two dream matches, the proposed clash between Williams and Murray seems a little closer to actually happening.

Murray wrote in his BBC Sport column that he fancied the challenge of taking on the American 16-time grand slam winner.

"I'd be up for it, why not?" he said. "I've never hit with her but she's obviously an incredible player and I think people would be interested to see the men play against the women to see how the styles match up."

Pondering the match, Williams added: "Maybe I can get a game. I'm not sure, but I think I can get a game."

But former pro Jeff Tarango, gave a more scathing assessment of Williams's abilities, saying she would have to drop far down the men's rankings - possibly as low as 350th - to find an opponent she could beat.

"She would be tested," said Tarango, famous for storming off at Wimbledon in 1995, in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.

"She could test a lot of men on this planet, probably seven and a half billion, but Andy Murray is not one of them. He's way too good for her.

"Maybe if they found a handicapping system. I'm sure Andy could come up with something, maybe redraw the lines a little bit...

"Let's go to the depth of it. What they're asking is, 'How low do you have to go in the men's game before Serena pulls off a win?'.

"I'm going to say 300-350, those guys aren't used to playing for $500,000, they might start getting a little nervous and I think on a good surface on a good day, she could maybe take someone out."

And French Open winner Mary Pierce added her voice to the dissenters, saying depth of the men's game means even a low-ranked seed would have a chance against Williams.

"I had a lot of guys as sparring partners and some of those guys were tough for me to beat and didn't make it on the tour," Pierce said.

"They are so strong and like Serena said, every serve would be difficult to get back, it would be impossible to ace return and it would be hard to hit a winner."

 

Video: Fans still positive despite the rain

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss