Former champions Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka will renew their awfully loud rivalry Monday night at 7pm in the Indian Wells third round.
Azarenka, who like Sharapova is a former No. 1, has seen her ranking slip to No. 38 due to injury, hence the early meeting against Sharapova.
The two will play each other for the 14th time with Azarenka holding the slight 7-6 edge. But they haven’t met since the 2013 French Open semifinals won by Maria in three sets.
“I think we have a pretty good history head to head. So definitely it’s one of the rivalries, and I’m looking forward to that. We had great matches,” Azarenka said. “She’s one of the best players in the history, so it’s great to have that opportunity to compete against. Yeah, we played a lot against each other, but it’s been a while. So it’s cool.”
Sharapova, who reached the Australian Open final, will come in as the favorite. Azarenka, though, has won their last six on outdoor hardcourts including the 2012 Australian Open and 2012 Indian Wells finals.
“I think it’s nice to be able to play against each other quite early in the season, I would say,” Sharapova said. “It’s still only, what, our fourth ‑ for me ‑ our my fourth tournament this season. I think it will be a good challenge for both of us. We have had some really good matches in the past, even though we haven’t played against each other in a while. She’s made a few comebacks. She’s already been playing really good tennis. So, yeah, I always look forward to our matches, and I’m sure it will be a good one.”
Azarenka also has a new hitting partner on her side, Serena’s ex Sascha Bajin.
“We get along great, and I love to have chemistry,” Azarenka said. “I love to think of my team as my family, you know, so I would love to treat them the same way as my family. We are really close.
“Sascha is a great guy. He works so hard and I know him for a while, so it’s great to be able to not just really get to know each other. We already know each other. So take that, you know, working relationship into a next step already.”
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