Australian Open women’s quarters: Serena to send Sharapova out of Slam
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | January 25, 2016
2016 Australian Open
- Women’s singles quarter-finals
- Tuesday and Wednesday, January 26th-27th
- Play scheduled to start: 00:00 GMT
- Melbourne Park, Melbourne
- Live on Eurosport 1 and 2
Konta’s name among quarters clashes
Just eight women remain in the hunt to be the 2016 Australian Open women’s singles champion, with one former winner guaranteed to be eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Defending champ Serena Williams (6/5 with Coral to retain) faces 2008 Melbourne victor Maria Sharapova (12/1) on Tuesday, with former Wimbledon finalist and fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska (9/1) also in action against 40/1 tournament outsider Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.
Two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka (7/4 second-favourite), meanwhile, continues her quest to reign again Down Under on Wednesday taking on number seven seed Angelique Kerber (22/1 chance).
Great Britain’s Johanna Konta (16/1 shot for the title) has become the first female tennis pro representing that country to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam since 1984, and she tackles Chinese qualifier Shuai Zhang.
Serena has superb Sharapova record
Russia’s world number five Sharapova should be concerned by another battle with Williams, as she hasn’t beaten the all-time Grand Slam great since 2004.
A dominant head-to-head record reads 18-2 in Serena’s favour, and 11-1 on hard surfaces like the one the Australian Open is contested on. Williams boasts a flawless 3-0 in previous Melbourne meetings, including two final victories in straight sets, so she’s a worthy odds-on 1/4 match favourite and better at 8/11 to win 2-0.
That makes it very difficult to put 3/1 outsider Sharapova forward as able to pull off a shock. Her dismal run against Williams looks set to continue despite knocking out Swiss teenage talent Belinda Bencic to set up this latest chapter of their rivalry.
Radwanska to set up Serena semi
Poland’s top tennis pro Radwanska (odds-on at 3/10) has lost just one of three previous battles with number 10 seed Suarez Navarro, so that stands her in good stead to make the semi-finals.
Although the last two hard court meetings have been shared with one victory in three sets apiece, it’s Radwanska that tends to perform better on the Grand Slam stage. Sweet 6/4 odds say the total sets will be over 2.5 once again here.
Plumping for Radwanska to replicate a 2-1 result rewards punters with an awesome 11/4 price, and Suarez Navarro is yet to face anyone of elite quality at this Slam.
Azarenka has already crushed Kerber this year
Don’t let her lower seeding of 14th fool you, Belarus’ best sporting export Azarenka swept aside Australian Open quarters opponent Kerber in straight sets in the final of the WTA event in Brisbane just a couple of weeks ago.
The head-to-head record now reads 6-0 to Azarenka, with five of those results coming on this surface, so she’s a strong odds-on 1/4 match favourite. Kerber’s resurgence gives her a glimmer of hope at 3/1, but that’s all.
Awesome Azarenka has dropped just 11 games in four successive 2-0 wins in Melbourne and her string of straight sets triumphs looks set to continue at a better 4/6 price.
Shuai should fall to Konta
In this final quarter-final both women have arguably punched above their weight to reach the last eight. Shuai Zhang and Konta’s head-to-head record reads one win apiece, with the Aussie-born Brit taking victory in their only Grand Slam encounter.
Having upset former WTA world number eight Ekaterina Makarova in a three-hour epic, Konta starts as odds-on 1/2 match favourite to reach the semis. Shuai Zhang, who came from behind to eliminate 15th seed Madison Keys in three sets, came through qualifying, but her sensational run may be at an end.
A 13/8 match outsider, Shuai Zhang should fall to a rampant Konta, who is a 5/4 chance to inflict a straight sets defeat on her opponent and end this Cinderella story.