Our stats lover Omair didn't leave the quarterfinal previews uncompleted, and here he is with his analysis of the quarterfinal between Maria Sharapova and Ekatarina Makarova, following the preview of the Petra Kvitova vs. Sara Errani quarterfinal, and the post-match analysis of the final eight clashes between Kim Clijsters vs. Caroline Wozniacki, and Victoria Azarenka vs. Agnieszka Radwanska.
One thing I am convinced on is that numbers don't lie, after the analyses I did for the first two quarterfinals. When Agnieszka Radwanska entered the match against Victoria Azarenka she was the cleaner player and she just had to play that way to beat Azarenka, but Azarenka was on fire, forcing Radwanska out of her comfort zone. Only if Radwanska had been able to reproduce those numbers in the quarterfinal she would have won, but she failed to do so. As for Wozniacki and Clijsters, the same thing happened to Wozniacki. The last Australian Open quarterfinal on the schedule pits two "ovas" against each other. One is Ekatarina Makarova and the other is Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova did not play any tune-up events in order to give her ankle, that she injured last year in her match against Kvitova, time to rest. Not even a single person considered Sharapova a title threat owing to her lack of play since her injury, and when the draw came out her chances of making it past the quarters looked even grimmer with a potential clash with Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, but here she is in the quarters and not against Williams but Williams' conqueror.
Makarova and Sharapova both have lost one set so far in the tournament. Sharapova enters the match as the favorite, and has beaten Makarova in both their encounters. However, Makarova's run here so far has shown that she can beat anyone on a given day, even in consecutive matches.
Makarova beat Kaia Kanepi in her second round, Vera Zvonareva in the third and Serena Williams in the fourth and as if that was not enough she never lost a set in those three encounters. Kanepi was being dubbed as a dark horse by many after her Brisbane win, while Zvonareva is a Top 10 player, and I don't think I need to say anything about Williams since we all know her, her fighting spirit and her credentials.
This is Makarova's first Grand Slam quarterfinal match, and if she keeps up the level she has been playing with, Sharapova should not be a problem, but we all know what a fighter Sharapova is, which she showed in her comeback win against Lisicki, who has one of the most powerful serves on the women's tour.
Sharapova is a great returner and the match will be on Sharapova's racquet, her serve has so far been good, but will it hold for another day and earn her a spot in the semifinals, and let her continue her quest to reach No.1, remains to be seen. Let's see what the numbers tell us.
Sharapova leads Makarova in almost every department other than the winning percentage on the second serve. This should be Sharapova's match unless her serve deserts her, as it has on several occasions. The stand out feature in the Sharapova's stats is her break point conversion rate. She has converted over 70% of the break point chances. It should be an interesting match.
I think Makarova will be fazed by her first quarterfinal at a Grand Slam, and Sharapova will win in straight sets. What do you see and who will you be rooting for? (photos: Stephane Martinache)