It’s not often I write about women’s tennis during a non-Slam week and especially before the semifinals, but tonight in Stanford all eyes in tennis will be on a heavyweight quarterfinal showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
The two are by far the two biggest names in women’s tennis and they’ll meet for a ninth time. Serena holds the big lead 6-2 winning the last five over Maria including a 6-1, 6-1 demolition in their last hardcourt meeting at Miami in 2007.
“Just like when I’m playing anyone, I’m going to go out there and do the best I can do – just like she will do,” Serena said last night. “This is a job for me and I’m trying to get paid – I’ve been off a year.”
But Serena is still not back anywhere close to 100% match level after missing nearly a year because of a foot injury and a blood clot. And Stanford is just her third event during this comeback.
Sharapova, who’s been fighting back herself from an injured shoulder, appears to be almost back to full strength, and I have to give her just a slight edge tonight even though she hasn’t beaten Serena since 2004.
Both ladies are coming off three setters in their last match. Serena beat another pretty, blond Russian named Maria yesterday, Kirilenko, 6-2 in the third while Sharapova prevailed over Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 in their three-setter Wednesday.
My feeling is the winner becomes the No. 2 favorite at the US Open behind Kim Clijsters, that is assuming the Belgian fully recovers from her ankle injury.
Down the coast in Los Angeles, Juan Martin Del Potro and Mardy Fish appear headed for a final showdown on Sunday. Today, Del Potro, who won LA in his last appearance in 2009, meets the unpredictable Ernests Gulbis. Fish is on against Igor Kunitsyn.
Also today in the quarterfinals, Ryan Harrison plays Lu and Tomaz Bellucci faces Alex Bogomolov, Jr.
Tennis Channel comes on at 3pm ET with Harrison. ESPN2 will have live coverage of the Fish match at 7pm ET.
Serena and Maria will be shown live on ESPN2 at 11pm ET (I think).
STRAUS STADIUM start 12:00 noon
Y Lu (TPE) vs R Harrison (USA)
 J Erlich (ISR) / A Ram (ISR) vs M Baghdatis (CYP) / M Russell (USA)
Not Before 4:00 PM
 M Fish (USA) vs  I Kunitsyn (RUS)
Not Before 7:30 PM
E Gulbis (LAT) vs  J Del Potro (ARG)
S Devvarman (IND) / T Huey (PHI) vs G Muller (LUX) / J Murray (GBR)
GRANDSTAND not before 4:00 PM
A Bogomolov Jr. (USA) vs  T Bellucci (BRA)
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