by Mad Professah
It's been more than 20 months since Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova met on a tennis court and today's match did not dissapoint. The No. 1 seed defeated the unseeded 3-time Miami champion in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open on Sunday 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in a 146-minute match plagued by errors from both players.
After leading 2-0 in the first set, Sharapova lost 6 games in a row and the set to Williams, but then broke Williams in the first game of the second set. Sharapova maintained her lead while continuing to hit many of her 13 double faults but evened the match. In the third set Williams raced off to a quick lead of 3-1 and held game point for 4-1 before being broken in two consecutive service games to go down 3-4. She then broke back and held to lead 4-5 on Sharapova's serve and was two points away from winning the match at deuce during that game.
In the crucial 11th game when Williams had opportunities to hold her serve she became tentative and let the Russian dictate play until the American commited a forehand error. Match point brought (another) Williams forehand error, this one sailing more than 10 feet past the baseline.
Venus Williams missed more than 50% of her first serves during the match (at one point she missed 4 serves in a row or two consecutive double faults in the third set and served only one ace after the first set) and committed a whopping 55 unforrced errors to 28 winners. Sharapova had only 22 winners and made 36 unforced errors, but her first service percentage was 54% compared to Williams' 49%. Both players combined for 25 double faults in this ugly affair.
The match (as usual) came down to who played the bigger points better and Sharapova converted 7 of 12 breakpoints while Williams converted one less at 6 of 12.
If Serena Williams wins her (rain-delayed) match against Lucie Safarova tomorrow then there will be a repeat of the 2007 Australian Open final on Tuesday: Maria versus Serena II: This Time It's Personal.