Wimbledon 2015: Maria Sharapova seeks to end 16-match losing run to nemesis Serena Williams

The Russian has not beaten her rival since 2004, and the world No 1 understandably loves playing her

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The Independent Online

There are very few players with Maria Sharapova’s mental strength, but the 28-year-old Russian will need every ounce of her self-belief when she faces Serena Williams in the semi-finals here.

The head-to-head record between the two women makes extraordinary reading. In 2004, Sharapova won their second meeting here in the Wimbledon final and repeated the result in the end-of-year tour championships. Since then, however, the traffic has been entirely one-way, with Williams beating Sharapova 16 times in a row.

Since 2008, they have played each other 12 times and Williams has dropped only one set. The last time they met on grass was in the Olympic final here in 2012, when Williams won 6-0, 6-1, though their most recent meeting, in this year’s Australian Open final, was closer, the world No 1 winning 6-3, 7-6.

Sharapova, though, refuses to be weighed down by history. “It’s always a new match,” she said. “I haven’t had great success against her. I would love to change that around. That’s how I look at it.”

Williams, understandably, loves playing Sharapova. “I think she brings out the best in me,” she said. “I think I bring out the best in her. I thought we had a wonderful final in Australia. She played really well. For me, I don’t feel like I have any pressure going into this match. We both  actually lost early last year.  We both are kind of enjoying this moment.”

Sharapova has not won the title here since that victory in 2004, but her ambition remains undiminished. “I haven’t seen [my] name on the trophy in a while because I haven’t held the trophy in many years,” she said. “I know it’s there, but I would love to check it out again.”

 

Williams has won her last 26 Grand Slam matches in succession, a run she has bettered only once in her career, when she won 33 in a row in 2002-03. Her tally of 278 Grand Slam victories matches Steffi Graf’s, leaving only Martina Navratilova (306) and Chris Evert (299) ahead of her on the all-time Open era list.

The head-to-head record in the other semi-final, between Garbine Muguruza and Agnieszka Radwanska, stands at two wins apiece.

Radwanska has played her best tennis of the year in recent weeks, having earned more ranking points in three grass-court tournaments than she did in her first 10 events of the season, while Muguruza, who is her best on hard courts, had won only one match here before last week.

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