Maria Sharapova: Breaking Down Toughest Opponents on Road to Finals

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Maria Sharapova: Breaking Down Toughest Opponents on Road to Finals
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Hopefully Sharapova doesn't have to face any of these women.

Maria Sharapova is competing in the US Open this year and is currently ranked No. 3 in the world, according to the Women's Tennis Association. However, she has some tough opponents to face in order to reestablish herself at the top of the mountain.

Multiple women came to mind when going over the top competitors to challenge Sharapova's quest for her first U.S. Open title since 2006. However, three women stood out above the rest of the competition. 

They all have varying backgrounds versus the Russian star, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are able to beat Sharapova on hard courts like Flushing Meadows.

 

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Wozniacki pushes Sharapova to the limit on hard surfaces.

Caroline Wozniacki

Record versus Sharapova: 2-4

In the battle between the pair of talented Europeans, Sharapova holds the edge. Wozniacki has only won two of the six matchups between the two. Their styles are very complimentary when it comes to facing one another and that will lead to a match that, at the very least, is worth watching.

Wozniacki at one time was the world's top player. But she has since fallen from that ranking to her spot at No. 9. She has the ability to give Sharapova fits with her well-rounded game and her consistently good play.

On hard courts like what they will be playing on at Flushing Meadows, Wozniacki is tied with Sharapova at two matches apiece. However, in their last three encounters on a hard surface, Wozniacki has either won in straight sets or has forced a third set for Sharapova to beat her.

 

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Azarenka is the best in the world, despite not winning at the Olympics or Wimbledon.

Victoria Azarenka

Record versus Sharapova: 5-4

Belorussian tennis player Victoria Azarenka is the No. 1 player, according to the WTA rankings. She's also just one of two players on this list who owns an edge head-to-head over Maria Sharapova.

Azarenka has a 5-4 edge over Sharapova in their nine career matches against each other. However, a more telling stat is that Azarenka has won four of the last six matches that these two have played. She has won the last four straight played on hard surfaces like that in the US Open in an undefeated streak of eight straight sets. 

Azarenka has to prove that she is still the top player in the world with her performance at Flushing Meadows. However, it wouldn't shock anyone if she defeats Sharapova should they face off, especially with how dominant she has been over the Russian on hard surfaces.

 

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Serena Williams looks like she is ready to dominate.

Serena Williams

Record versus Sharapova: 9-2

Serena Williams is a Sharapova momentum killer almost every single time they play. In the 11 matches between the two stars, Williams holds an edge of nine wins to Sharapova's two. But it's not just that Serena beats Maria, it's that she dominates her.

Williams has won 18 sets in her victories against Sharapova. Maria has squeaked out just three sets in the losses. Even in the wins, Sharapova still had to play Serena down to the wire. The most telling thing here is that Maria hasn't beaten Serena in over eight years.

When her last victory against an opponent is almost an entire decade ago, it's safe to say that that opponent completely owns her in their tennis matches.

Maria has quite a few women to worry about in this tournament, but the No. 4-ranked Williams is easily the toughest.

 

All head-to-head statistics used in this slideshow were available via this nifty tool on the WTA official tennis site.

 

Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.

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