Mixed bag of emotion: It's with great excitement and disappointment that we bring you our first Women's Marquee Matchup of this year's Australian Open: Maria "Shriek"apova vs. Lindsay Davenport in the 2nd round. We'd love to see Maria and Lindsay continue their paths through the draw and meet up somewhere around, oh, the quarterfinals. Alas, it wasn't meant to be - someone will be going home early.
Maria's 1st round match was a relatively routine affair, defeating journeywoman Jelena Kostanic Tosic 6-4, 6-3 in 89 minutes. In contrast, Lindsay struggled mightily in her 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 win over the pesky Italian Sara Errani. The last time these two Grand Slam champions met was in 2006, when the Russian won a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 semifinal in Dubai.
Here's what Maria had to say about playing Lindsay:
"[Lindsay is] a completely different opponent than the opponent I played today. You know, [she's] a big hitter, has a big serve. You know, she's more of a 1‑2 ball combination type of player. It's going to be very important to serve well and return well and hopefully get a good hit on the first ball. [...] Yeah, I do [have a good record against her.] Yeah, I do. But this is a completely different match. We haven't played in a while. It's going to be a new match."
Lindsay had this to say about playing Maria:
"[Maria] will be the first grand-slam winner I've played since being back. [...] She's a great player. She's one of the few players I don't have a winning record against probably in the draw. We play very similar styles. She's outplayed me the last couple times we played."
Matt Cronin for FOXSports.com believes a high first-serve percentage and aggressive returning will be key for both players, whose styles are quite similar due to their tudorship under famed groundstroking coach Robert Lansdorp. We agree with Cronin and also think Lindsay's not quite ready for this level just yet - we'll take Maria in 2 tight sets.
(images via AP Photo/Rob Griffith & Andrew Brownbill)