On Tuesday at the Australian Open, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will meet for the 21st time in their careers. Serena has won 18 of their previous 20 meetings, including 17-straight victories over the Russian. Last year they met in the finals in Melbourne, but due to Sharapova's rankings drop they're now quarterfinal foes. The problem for Sharapova against Serena is simple: they play very similar games but Serena is just a bit better at it. They both hit with power and love to hit against power and in their previous meetings it's been Serena who's a bit stronger on serve and from the baseline.
The one hope for Sharapova is she has served extremely well in her first four matches at the Australian Open and has more than twice as many aces as Serena coming into this match (52 to 25). The big difference between these two has been 2nd serve—Serena has one of the best and Sharapova wins less than 50% when she's had to hit a 2nd serve. That puts even more pressure on Sharapova to continue her big serving and to do so while getting in a high percentage of 1st serves—the 56% in play that she's averaged through four rounds may not be enough against Serena.
Check SI.com's Australian Open Daily Data Viz hub page throughout the whole tournament for the latest data-driven infographics and charts from IBM, the official technology partner for the Australian Open. IBM captures and analyzes the data that powers all of the Grand Slams, as well as the digital platforms that extend the experience to fans around the world.