Sony Tennis Open 2013: What to Watch for in Epic Women's Final

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Sony Tennis Open 2013: What to Watch for in Epic Women's Final
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Saturday's 2013 WTA Sony Tennis Open women's final will pit the two best female tennis players on the planet against one another in a must-see championship showdown.

World No. 1 Serena Williams will go head-to-head with fellow superstar Maria Sharapova in Key Biscayne, Miami. Adding to the excitement of this high-profile clash is the fact that Williams is a five-time champion of this tournament, going up against a four-time Miami runner-up in Sharapova.

Will Williams make history by becoming the first woman to win six singles titles in Miami, or will Sharapova finally break through and end her gut-wrenching drought?

Here we'll run down what tennis fans should be watching for on Saturday.

 

Serena's Serve

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It's no secret that Serena Williams' biggest asset is her monster serve, which can earn her easy points and demoralize her opponents early on in big matches.

Sharapova is no stranger to Williams' powerful serves, but she will need a little bit of help from the 15-time Grand Slam champion in order to achieve some success in her return games. If Williams is pounding accurate first serves into the box from the first set on Saturday, then Sharapova is doomed. 

The key will be for the Russian star to take full advantage of her second serve return opportunities if and when she gets them.

Although she is more than capable of tracking down Williams' serve and earning a few breaks, Sharapova will need her rival to turn out a good amount of unforced errors as well if she's going to break through at the Sony Open.

 

Sharapova's Confidence

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

As already mentioned, Maria Sharapova has finished as a runner-up in Miami four times since 2005 but has never won. That's an important fact to remember heading into this weekend's final, as Sharapova's confidence will no doubt take a huge hit if she gets off to a slow start.

An early break would do wonders for Sharapova's psyche, and if she can take the first set from Williams for the first time in eight years, she'll be in the driver's seat and feeling good about her chances.

Otherwise, if Williams' begins to roll early, it might not take long at all for the roof to fall in on Sharapova, who is 1-7 all-time against Williams on hard courts. 

 

Another Williams' Win

While both players are scorching hot coming into Saturday's match, each having dropped just three games in their semifinal victories, you can expect Serena Williams to come out on top in the end. 

In addition to the fact that Williams has five Miami singles titles to Sharapova's zero, Williams has defeated her younger rival 10 straight times dating back to the 2005 Australian Open; six of those wins have come on hard courts and only two of those 10 matches required a third set. 

Look for Williams to pick up her seventh consecutive straight-set win over Sharapova this weekend, as she's dropped just one set through her first five matches in Key Biscayne.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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