January 19, 2019

This upcoming battle had much of the elements and anticipation of a heavyweight bout between two, tall, deeply experienced Fem Competitors in great slender fighting shape.

What adds to the drama is the icy relationship reported on between the two.

It’s fitting they would meet in Australia at a Grand Slam.

Regarding their relationship? As the Aussies might say, it’s been a long time in between drinks.

Why the breach? Possibly in part because of Caroline Wozniacki’s public comments questioning Maria Sharapova’s ability to get on the premier courts ahead of her at the 2017 US Open.

Maria was not impressed.

Big time players on a big time stage with big time issues.

Grand Slam winners Maria Sharapova vs Caroline Wozniacki.

And it’s only the third round.

Back in the day this could easily be a Grand Slam semi-final or finals championship match.

That day would have been a time period where Maria Sharapova was at the top of her game.

As of this January 17, 2019 writing, Maria is ranked number 30 and Caroline is highly charted at number 3 coming into this match.

Now for some bio basics.

Maria Yuryevna Sharapova is a Russian professional tennis player, a United States resident since 1994 and our regal star has competed on the WTA tour since 2001.

Maria has been ranked world No. 1 in singles by the WTA on five separate occasions, for a total of 21 weeks. She is only one of ten women, and the only Russian, to hold the career Grand Slam. She is also an Olympic medalist, having won silver in women’s singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Ms. Sharapova became the world No. 1 for the first time on August 22, 2005, at the age of 18, becoming the first Russian female tennis player to top the singles rankings, and last held the ranking for the fifth time for four weeks from June 11, 2012, to July 8, 2012.

Her 36 singles titles and five Grand Slam titles, two at the French Open and one each at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open, rank third among active players, behind Serena and Venus Williams.

She won the year-ending WTA Finals in her debut in 2004. She has also won three doubles titles.

As far as professional tennis resumes go, that is stratospheric.

Despite an injury-prone career, Maria has achieved a rare level of longevity in the women’s game. She won at least one singles title a year from 2003 until 2015, a streak only bested by Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert.

Can Caroline match that?

She certainly has nothing to prove, especially after finally breaking through and winning the 2018 Australian Open over Simona Halep.

Based upon that and the fact that Maria is coming off of a long layoff, in terms of temperature, Caroline is the hottest player.

Maria perhaps the more dangerous one.

Caroline Wozniacki is a Danish professional tennis player.

She is a former world No. 1 in singles. She is also the first woman from a Scandinavian country to hold the top ranking position and 20th in the Open Era. She finished on top of the rankings in both 2010 and 2011.

Great accomplishments all but for years many wondered how can you really be number one if you’ve never won a Grand Slam?

Caroline has won 30 WTA singles titles, including six in 2010 and 2011, the most in a year by a WTA player from 2008–2011.

She was the runner-up at the 2009 US Open and the 2010 WTA Tour Championships to Kim Clijsters, and at the 2014 US Open to Serena Williams.

She won the 2006 Wimbledon Girls’ Singles title and also holds two WTA titles in doubles.

In 2008, Ms. Wozniacki won the title of WTA Newcomer of the Year.

In 2017, our Danish luminary won the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore for the first time in her career.

Now, drum roll please. Caroline won her maiden Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open and returned to the No. 1 ranking on 29 January 2018.

This is why we would describe this as a battle of tennis heavy weights.

How badly do these two want to win? Once the match began?

The first game alone took 8 minutes to complete.

fciwomenswrestling.com femcompetitor.com article, WTA Tour photo

You read that right. Game. Singular. Eight minutes?

Initially it looked like Caroline’s recent rise was holding true as she got off to the early lead.

Maria looked tense but very steely eyed and determined, taking a long time between points to stay focused.

She then began to turn things around by hitting some incredible shots.

Though some might say that her career is not what it once was, when you are dealing with an unbelievably talented player who has the power to hit big shots and is long on savvy and experience, when they are on, they are frighteningly dangerous.

Especially when they might be trying to make Caroline Wozniacki eat her words. Publicly.

Once Maria went up 5-4, Caroline in frustration launched a ball into the stands.

First set to the relentless veteran Maria, 6-4.

Wozniacki has less unforced errors but Maria is pounding out more winners.

Maria has not contended for a Grand Slam championship in well over a year and a half since her lay off.

A win at a Slam against a big time player like Caroline would do wonders for her confidence.

As the second set progresses Caroline keeps it close taking the lead at 4-3. Once again the unforced errors are creeping into Maria’s game.

It is in Maria’s best interest to reduce those unforced errors, keep the set close and try and close this out in two.

Easier said than done.

Sharapova continues to run along the baseline and cut off the angles. Currently 4-4.

Wozniacki is not flustered as she pounds in some big serves herself and now leads 5-4.

Sharapova appears to be cracking under the pressure. The errors are once again mounting including up to this point 6 double faults, 4 of them in the second set alone.

Wozniacki is not forgiving and wins the second set 6-3. How? Maria hits an unforced error deep behind the baseline.

At one set a piece, the crowd at Rod Laver Arena should be in for a Down Under nail biter.

Wozniacki continues her momentum into the third set with the steadier hand going up 1-0.

The battle rages on and the two keep it nip and tuck as Wozniacki stays ahead 3-2. There promises to be a fantastic finish. Sharapova is undaunted and knots it at 3-3.

Momentum is now shifting. Sharapova hits what else, a whistling winner and screams at the top of her lungs as she breaks Wozniacki and goes up 4-3.

This is far from over.

Sharapova holds at love. She continues to use that powerful forehand. She doesn’t back down, takes risks and goes for her big shots. At this point it is 37-10 with Maria ahead on hitting winners.

Ironically it is Wozniacki that finally hits an error at 3-5 and Maria has her first match point.

In a seemingly endless point that goes back and forth, Caroline staves off the first match point.

Maria however recognizes the gravity of the moment and realizes that if she can beat a top player like Caroline, she is absolutely back in the discussion.

She wastes no time and hits two terrific winners to upend last year’s champion and wins a dramatic heavy weight fight at 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Maria only lost five points on serve in that entire final set.

Make no mistake about it. At this year’s 2019 Australian Open Maria Sharapova makes a huge statement.

She is back.

Ms. Wozniacki found out the hard way something which teaches that you should think before you speak and perhaps it is wise to keep certain thoughts and beliefs private.

Memo to Caroline Wozniacki.

Maria Sharapova always belongs on the premier show court.

fciwomenswrestling.com femcompetitor.com article, photo via Hindustan Times

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OPENING PHOTO – SPORTING NEWS PHOTO CREDIT

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Sharapova

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caroline_Wozniacki