Former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova will face a stiff test in the quarterfinal of the Shenzhen Open 2019 when she goes up against the rising Belarusian prodigy Aryna Sabalenka. The duo will meet on Thursday.
Watch & bet on Maria Sharapova v Aryna Sabalenka live in the Shenzhen Open with bet365 here* on Thursday, January 3. The Sharapova v Sabalenka quarterfinal match will begin around 12:30 pm local time (GMT +8).
*Geo-restrictions apply & pre-funded account needed
Sharapova’s Decent Start to the Season
The Russian started her 2019 WTA Season in Shenzhen against the Swiss Timea Bacsinszky. It was Sharapova’s 800th professional singles match which she won in straight sets with 6-2, 7-6(3). The fifth seed then moved into the second round to meet the 17-year-old Chinese Wang Xinyu.
In what turned out to be one of the most entertaining matches of the competition so far, the teenager managed to stun the Russian legend by taking the first set 7-6(4) in little over an hour. In the second set, however, Sharapova found her rhythm and went up 5-2 before her opponent was forced to retire due to cramping.
At the end of the match, the five-time Grand Slam champion went to Xinyu in a brilliant display of sportsmanship and lifted her spirits up. Sharapova complimented her game by saying that she was unbelievable and spent a few moments with the Chinese before leaving the court.
Sharapova’s return to the tour from suspension has certainly been exciting. In 2018, she entered the top 30 after starting the year as the World No. 59. She couldn’t win a singles title although, she was a semifinalist in Shenzhen, a quarterfinalist in Madrid and the Roland Garros, and once again a semifinalist in the Italian Open.
Sabalenka’s Breakthrough Spell in 2018
As for Sabalenka, she started her campaign in Shenzhen with a three-set victory over Tatjana Maria. She then met Ekaterina Alexandrova whom she defeated comfortably with 6-3, 6-3.
The 20-year-old had a sensational time on the tour in 2018. She finished the year as the World No. 13, shortly after reaching her career-best singles ranking at No. 11 position. She won two singles titles over the course of the year – the Premier 5 event in Wuhan and the Premier event in New Haven.
She was also a runner-up in WTA Lugano and WTA Eastbourne. Needless to mention, Sabalenka has a bright future ahead of her. If she carries on like this, she can very well reach the top 10 in 2019.
Sabalenka v Sharapova Head to Head
The two ladies have crossed paths only once in the past. The eventful match was final of the 2017 WTA Tianjin, which Sharapova won to lift her first maiden trophy since her return from the suspension.
Since then, Sabalenka’s form has improved tremendously with more room for improvement. As for Sharapova, she is yet to win a singles title since then. However, she is years ahead in experience and that should give her the edge here.
You can watch & bet on Maria Sharapova v Aryna Sabalenka live in the Shenzhen Open with bet365 on Thursday, January 3.