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By Pawan Atri
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However, the positive side of that is after Vika’s pull-out Serena is now the overwhelming favorite to lift the trophy at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Sunday. She opens her campaign for a 48th career crown against world no.11 Bartoli who has been under immense media spotlight recently due to her decision to end her coaching relationship with her father.
The Frenchwoman has not made any secrets of her desire to work with former Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo as she feels like that her insights can boost her game and can add that much needed spark by which she could be able to confront the best day and day out.
The former SW19 runner-up made a slow start against the in-form Klara Zakopalova in her previous encounter and was stretched to three sets, but came back strongly to denounce the Czech 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. And she knows that what a proposition she will be in when she takes on the 15 times Major winner later this evening. The Geneva resident jokingly claimed that the best time to play the superstar was 4 am in the morning as she will feel sleepy at that hour.
Jokes apart beating the reigning Big W victor will be a big ask for the 2011 French Open semifinalist. Bartoli said: "It's the way it is - it's an extremely tough draw," Bartoli said. "When you come to Dubai, you're not coming to play against someone ranked No.100. You're coming to play the very tough players. And it's going to be a very hard test, but it will show me where I am and where I need to improve."
The two veterans have dueled four times before and there’s no surprise that the 31 year old leads the 28 year old 3-1 in their head-to-head matches. To make the matters much worse for the girl with a double handed forehand is the fact that she had failed to get even a set-off Serena in their three clashes on the hard-courts. The younger of the Williams sisters was victorious in their recent meeting too that happened to be in the final of Stanford two years ago and that was the year when the US citizen was having a torrid time with injuries. If Bartoli could not crack the Serena code then, she is unlikely to do so now.
Pick: Williams in two.
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