Our stats expert Omair was again busy and prepared post-match analytics of the Australian Open quarterfinals whose previews he presented yesterday. Let's first see how the numbers look for the quarterfinal in which Maria Sharapova defeated fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2 6-3.
Maria Sharapova took the Rod Laver Arena today with a purpose on her mind, she wanted to prove her doubters wrong, she wanted to show that she too can be a title threat without any match play before the Grand Slam event. She had every reason to be confident when she took the Rod Laver Arena, for she has never lost in the quarterfinals here at Melbourne.
Coming into today's match Sharapova was four out of four in her previous quarterfinals here at Melbourne and she kept that record intact by making it five out of five through to the semifinals.
When Makarova took the court today she had every reason to feel confident. She had beaten Vera Zvonareva in the third round and then topped it off by beating five-time Aussie Open champion Serena Williams in the fourth round. However, that did not help her much against Sharapova, and that did not intimidate Sharapova, who easily breezed past Makarova to book a semifinal clash with Kvitova.
Let us see what the numbers tell us:
Makarova could not keep the level up and going against Sharapova her first serve winning percentage fell. Still, more alarming was her winning percentage on the second serve that fell dramatically to 36%. If that was not enough she could not win points on Sharapova's serve as well, which is considered to be a liability in Sharapova's game. Her winning percentage on receiving points was only 36%. You can never win against Sharapova by winning only 36% of your second serves and 36% of the receiving points.
However, Makarova deserves every praise for her first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance and she did that in style, by ousting a dark horse, a Top 10 player and a five-time Australian Open champion. I hope we can see more of such performances from Makarova.
What was interesting for Sharapova and may be confidence-boosting for her was her serve, she served at a whopping 77% first serve, and to add to that she won 71% of those 77% serves. That truly is remarkable for a player whose serve is her liability. What is more interesting is that Sharapova faced only two break points on her serve and saved one of those break points, she did not show any lapses of concentration unlike her future semifinal opponent Kvitova.
One department where Sharapova will be hoping to improve on will be her break point conversion rate in her semifinal clash against yet another "ova", since her break point conversion rate in this match was good enough to make her move past Makarova, but may not be good enough to make her move past Kvitova.
Wimbledon final rematch awaits us and promises to be a great match if both players are on fire. (photos: © Neal Trousdale)