Sony Tennis Open 2013: Previewing Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova Final

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2013

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - OCTOBER 28:  Serena Williams of USA is congratulated by Maria Sharapova of Russia in the final during day six of the season ending TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships Tennis at the Sinan Erdem Dome on October 28, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The women's final of the Sony Tennis Open is going to be a good one, as it features the top two players in the world.

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova took care of business throughout the tournament and will face each other in the event's final round. They have both played extremely well to this point.

You can expect both to have a tougher time when they battle on Saturday, though. In order to win, they will have to follow these keys to victory.

 

Serena Williams: Finish the Match in 2 Sets

As good as Williams has played over the past year, she still does not have the best conditioning. This is not a problem when you win 6-0, 6-0, but it is for longer matches.

So far in 2013, the American is only 2-3 in third sets, which is arguably due to her inability to stay strong physically and mentally in longer contests.

Conversely, Sharapova has had much more success surviving tough matches that go as long as a couple of hours.

This means Williams has to be more aggressive in the first few rounds. If she has a chance to go to the net to win points, that must be done. Otherwise, Sharapova will win in the end.

 

Maria Sharapova: Get the First Serve in Play

While Sharapova might not have as good of a serve as Williams, she still can win plenty of matches with her serve.

However, there is a huge difference when she misses the first serve this season. She has won 73.9 percent of first serves, but only 47.8 percent of second serves.

Williams is very strong and can handle the weaker serves, but she will have more trouble with the best Sharapova has to offer.

Accuracy on the serve will go a long way toward securing a win in this match. If she can get over two-thirds of her shots in play, she will be in good shape.

 

Prediction: Serena Williams Wins 6-4, 6-4

Maria Sharapova is very consistent in her ability to beat up on weaker opponents, but she has not had much success against Serena Williams.

The two have faced three times this season, and the Russian has not won a single set. She has not shown the ability to handle the strong serve of the No. 1 player in the world.

Williams should continue her strong play by winning the Sony Open and preparing for the upcoming majors.

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