The Melbourne stage is now set for an intriguing contest between the world’s number one and the world’s number two – so who’s going to win the first major trophy of the new season?

Match: Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova

Serena Williams

Source: y.caradec @ Flickr

Selection: Maria Sharapova (+1.5 sets)

Best Odds: 1.81 @ Pinnacle

Before the tournament started, we have backed Maria Sharapova to win it at odds that looked pretty excellent – and they naturally look even better now. However, we did not expect that Serena Williams would be her opponent in the finals, so those who have backed the Russian might easily want to consider cashing out before the match even starts – a profit is a profit, after all. However, we wouldn’t dare to write her off in the slightest – in fact, it could be argued that she has actually been the better player of the two so far in Melbourne. It will be tough for her to face the world’s number one, as Serena Williams is someone who seems to have her number in these big matches, but players like Svitolina or Keys have shown that there are weaknesses in the American’s game at the moment, so Sharapova should not be too unhappy about this contest coming in this precise moment.

There are also some rumors floating around regarding Serena’s fitness and they don’t seem to be completely unfounded, so that is yet another reason for Sharapova to be optimistic ahead of this battle. All in all, it should all come down to Sharapova’s mind and focus – if she finds her rhythm early on and if she puts the bad record against Williams behind, she should be able to put the American under plenty of pressure, winning a set or maybe even the entire match.