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By Randy Walker



In his latest book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME, respected tennis observer and historian Steve Flink rated the Maria Sharapova return of serve No. 5 all time in the history of women’s tennis. In the first serve category, he rated the Venus Williams No. 2 all time, behind only her little sister Serena’s first delivery.

An all-time great server against an all-time great server returner made the blockbuster match-up between the two tennis icons that much more intriguing Friday night in the third round of the Australian Open. However, one only needs to take a quick look at the match’s statistics to determine which stroke was more dominant on this occasion.

  • 58 percent first serve percentage for Williams
  • 47 percent first serve points won for Williams
  • 41 percent second-serve points won for Williams
  • 41 percent second-serve points won for Williams
  • 56 percent of receiving points won for Sharapova
  • 0 aces for Williams

It was no surprise that it was game, set and match to Sharapova and her return of serve that broke the Williams serve five times in the 6-1, 6-3 rout.

“That was one of the important keys in this match was first serve percentage,” said two-time Australian Open champion Chris Evert on ESPN2. “Venus’s second serve is very attackable and Maria Sharapova has one of the best return of serves in the game”

Perhaps the only consolation that Williams can take from her loss was that she didn’t lose to Sharapova 6-0, 6-0, the scoreline of the Russian’s first two rounds in her debut event of the 2013 season. Sharapova, however, remained intense throughout every moment of the79-minute match, pumping her fists and pumping herself up after breaking Williams to take a 6-1, 5-1 lead, before a hiccup service game loss serving out the match on her first attempt.

“Because of her experience, she’s certainly an athlete who is not going to give up. That was what won her so many titles in her career,” Sharapova told ESPN2’s Pam Shriver immediately after the match. “A few mistakes from my side and a few great gets from her and all of the sudden I lose a couple of game straight, but I was mentally tough, hung in there and I was able to close it out.”

Sharapova, seeded No. 2, next faces Belgium’s Kristen Flipkens in the round of 16, before a potential quarterfinal against No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany and a potential semifinal against either No. 4 seed Aggy Radwanska of Poland or No. 6 seed Li Na of China in the semifinals. The top half of the women’s draw features top seed Victoria Azarenka and No. 3 seed Serena Williams.

THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME by Steve Flink ($28.95, available here http://m1e.net/c?136411415-tfM0NfrCZCZ3k%408131538-VOplve.tM23zA  features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the 1920s featuring Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen up through the modern era of tennis featuring contemporary stars Sharapova, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams Flink breaks down, analyzes and puts into historical context the sport’s most memorable matches, providing readers with a courtside seat at these most celebrated and significant duels. Flink’s fascinating “greatest strokes of all time” section ranks and describes the players who best executed all the important shots in the game through the years.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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