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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links