Maria Sharapova Headed for Loss in Australian Open Finals vs. Kim Clijsters
Maria Sharapova has played great tennis in Melbourne, but Kim Clijsters is on a mission. Clijsters, the defending champion, has already disposed of the world's top player in Caroline Wozniacki, and she only has to handle Victoria Azarenka to reach the women's final.
Sharapova still has to defeat Ekaterina Makarova and the winner of Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani, but at this point, I'd call her the favorite against any of those opponents.
Clijsters is coming off a injury-plagued 2010 season, but is playing at an elite level at the Australian Open. Sharapova is also playing well as she tries to regain her No. 1 ranking. Both women have dropped only one set so far in the tournament. The history of the women competing against each other shows an advantage for Clijsters.
Will Clijsters newest injury derail her title defense?
Clijsters has won five of the eight matchups, even though she lost their last encounter in 2010, as she was not 100 percent then. But while she isnow in top form mentally, the injuries have begun to creep back. She rolled her ankle while competing against Li Na in her fourth-round match.
This is just another pain in a long list of physical ailments for Clijsters. She has vowed this will be her last season before retirement, and she wants to go out with a bang. She refused a scan of the ankle offering this warrior-like explanation:
I refused (to have a scan). I already had a scan on my neck a couple of days ago. I said no more. Whatever it is, I'm going to try to make the best out of it, then we'll see when I get home how I'm feeling.
It shows amazing focus and a high pain threshold. This drive is exactly what will see her to a successful title defense.
Sharapova is still taking steps towards regaining the top ranking in the world by advancing to the final, though that certainly isn't what she has in mind. Wozniacki's continued missteps in Grand Slams make her a very catchable player in the rankings. She has never won a Grand Slam in her career, and she has only reached one final.
In any other tournament, Sharapova's play and the seeds remaining would lead to a championship. Right now, Clijsters has the edge playing so well, being so motivated after injuries and her five wins over Sharapova.
It's a tournament that belongs to one specific player—this one is for Clijsters.
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