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WTA Madrid 2013: Maria Sharapova vs. Sabine Lisicki Round 3 Preview

By Pawan Atri    + Follow

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Keywords: Mutua Madrid Open | Roger-Federer | Grigor-Dimitrov | Maria-Sharapova | Sabine-Lisicki
WTA Madrid 2013: Maria Sharapova vs. Sabine Lisicki Round 3 Preview
World no.2 Maria Sharapova has been unbeatable on the red dirt in her previous 18 matches and if she wins the Madrid Open title on Sunday, it would be a perfect foil in her preparations for the defense of her French Open crown. But first she needs to overcome the challenge of Sabine Lisicki when the two meet in the pre-quarterfinals of the tournament at the Caja Magica on Thursday.

Maria has been all over in recent times – on the cover of magazines, front pages of the newspapers, and billboards too - not only due to her super success on court or for the reason that she is the most marketable female athlete in the world, in fact her recent love life with Roger Federer’s replica Grigor Dimitrov has hogged as much limelight as her exploits on the rectangular arena.

The Russian’s last loss on clay came right here at the Manolo Santana court at the hands of her nemesis Serena Williams but that came on the controversial blue clay – technically speaking she is undefeated on the red soil since Na Li triumphed over her in the semifinals of Roland Garros in 2011. The superstar’s 2013 campaign on the surface made up of crushed bricks kickstarted on a scratchy note as she had to go through the pain of three setters every time she stepped out on court until the final in Stuttgart. Still, she somehow managed to turn the tide in her favor and went on to conquer Li in the championship clash at the Porsche Arena to claim her 29th career shield.

Unlike the stumbling blocks that she faced in Germany, her journey in the Spanish capital has been a joyride so far as she took out Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania in her opener and followed that act with an absolute mauling of American qualifier Christina McHale on Wednesday. When the 2nd seed entered the Magic Box the clock was almost ticking towards the 12.00 am mark and Masha apparently was keen to evade an all-nighter, that’s why she steamrolled her rival without wasting too much time and fixed up her date with her Wimbledon slayer Lisicki.

After taming the US girl she stated: "It was important to be ready and start quickly, especially since we started so late. I knew I had to be focused from the very beginning, and I think I did a good job with that today." However, she knows that Lisicki would not be such an easy prey as she has given her all sorts of problems in the past. The reigning queen of Paris declared: "We've always had difficult encounters. She's a tough opponent and plays extremely well against top players - I expect a really tough match from her."

The pair have met five times before and not surprisingly it is the Nyagan native who leads their head-to-head 4-1. Even though Lisicki has given her a hard time in all those encounters highlighted by the verity that their recent three play-offs have either been decided in the final set or has been won by the world no.39.  Nevertheless the catch phrase over here is that it would be the duo’s first duel on clay and Sharapova with her classy returns undoubtedly has the advantage over her 23 year old rival.

Pick: Sharapova in two.

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