What Maria Sharapova's Loss to Serena Williams Means for US Open 2015

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 9, 2015

Russia's Maria Sharapova leaves the court after losing to Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic during their fourth round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Monday, June 1, 2015 in Paris. Safarova won 7-6, 6-4. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Maria Sharapova's quest to add a second Wimbledon title to her collection fell short. The world's fourth-ranked player was knocked off by Serena Williams in the semifinal, leaving her just one more chance to capture a sixth career major title in 2015. 

Sharapova lost 6-2, 6-4, as Williams advanced to her eighth final, as noted by Wimbledon's Twitter account.

Other than Wimbledon, which Sharapova previously won in 2004, her longest Grand Slam tournament drought has been at the U.S. Open. She captured the New York-based event in 2006 but has really struggled there in the eight years since. 

In fact, taking the French Open out of the equation, Sharapova hasn't won any of the other three majors since 2008. She has had chances, reaching the final of this year's Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2011. 

The one major difference between the French Open and the other three major tournaments is the playing surface. Roland Garros' clay agrees with Sharapova's playing style, where her baseline skills work better. 

This latest loss will add to Sharapova's resume of "failures." Even though she's one of just 10 women in the Open Era with a career Grand Slam, more is always expected of her because she's one of the sport's biggest stars. She hasn't been consistent in the biggest events. 

INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 14:  Maria Sharapova of Russia wipes her face against Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium during day six of the BNP Paribas Open tennis at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 14, 2015 in Indian Wells, California.  (Photo by Julian Fin
Julian Finney/Getty Images

In June 2014, after her second French Open win, tennis analyst Mary Carillo told Jim Caple of ESPNW.com that Sharapova has been forced to do her best work at a time when one of the greatest players in tennis history is often battling her:

She definitely hasn't overachieved, not at all. And she hasn't underachieved either. She's playing at a time when she's facing Serena. For somebody who is so rich and famous and accomplished, that she still tries to get better? That she has done this to her clay-court game? I couldn't be more impressed.

Yet even as the specter of Williams' dominance hovers over everything in women's tennis, Sharapova's missed opportunities in majors haven't all come directly at the hands of the world's No. 1 player.

The Russian star has made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon once from 2006-14. The U.S. Open has followed a similar trend, as she has only made it past the fourth round once since 2007. 

Before this year's Wimbledon, Sharapova said she just wanted a fresh start after losing in the fourth round of the French Open, per the WTA's website:

I want to prepare myself and train and not think about where I will be in four weeks. As an athlete, we want to try to be at the highest level, but to get there you know what your formula is. On the clay this year I started getting that rhythm again by the time Rome came around. It was a little bit tough to keep that going in the last couple of weeks, but that's what it is. So now, I'll get back to the basics.

Sharapova's efforts didn't work at this year's Wimbledon and will further cloud her prospects at the U.S. Open. She's going to be a favorite heading into that tournament because of her name recognition, but recent history suggests another disappointment. 

Tennis is a sport where players have to be on point each day or they will lose to someone with inferior talent. That's happened to Sharapova this season against players such as Angelique Kerber and Daria Gavrilova. 

At 28, Sharapova is young enough to get that elusive sixth major title. It just seems more likely to come in 2016 than at the U.S. Open. 

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