French Open 2018: Serena Williams faces Eiffel Tower-like challenge v Maria Sharapova

Updated: 04 June, 2018 13:04 IST | AFP | Paris

But Serena Williams thinks the Russian should be the favourite as she lacks playing time, while Maria Sharapova produced her best tennis since returning to the court in dismantling former World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1

Sharapova and Serena will highlight Day 9 of the French Open today
Sharapova and Serena will highlight Day 9 of the French Open today

All eyes will be on the showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova at the French Open today with the latter trying to end an 18-match losing streak to her bitter rival. Three-time champion Williams is playing her first Grand Slam tournament since taking time off last year due to pregnancy, while Sharapova is at Roland Garros for the first time in three years after serving a doping ban in 2016 and being refused a wildcard 12 months ago.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who holds a 19-2 record over Sharapova, is playing her first major tournament since winning the 2017 Australian Open, after giving birth to her daughter Olympia. Williams' only two losses to fellow former world number one Sharapova came 14 years ago — in the 2004 Wimbledon final and at the WTA Tour Championships — before even the birth of Twitter and YouTube.

But both are on the road back towards the top of the sport after their recent absences. Williams had played only four matches since taking time off due to pregnancy before arriving at Roland Garros. Sharapova is seeded for the first time at a Grand Slam since her suspension for using meldonium and is playing her first French Open since 2015 after being refused a wildcard by tournament organisers last year.

But the 36-year-old thinks the Russian should be the favourite today as she lacks playing time, while Sharapova produced her best tennis since returning to the court in dismantling former World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1.

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First Published: 04 June, 2018 12:50 IST

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