Serena out for revenge

LONDON - Sparks are expected to fly from Serena Williams racket when she finally gets a chance to settle a six-year-old score with Maria Sharapova today.

LONDON - Sparks are expected to fly from Serena Williams racket when she finally gets a chance to settle a six-year-old score with Maria Sharapova today.

The last time they met on grass, Williams was a sure bet to complete a hat-trick of Wimbledon crowns as she was facing a virtually unknown 17-year-old in the 2004 women's final.

But somebody obviously forgot to inform the Russian about her bit part in the final, and instead she memorably tried to ring up her mother from Centre Court to tell her "Hi mum, guess what? I just won Wimbledon".

Today, Williams, who stood stonefaced next to Sharapova on that sun-drenched July afternoon during the presentation ceremony, will be out to exact revenge and is confident there will no longer be any nasty surprises in store for her.

"She really knows my game. I think she really studies it. I pretty much know her game, so..." three-time champion Williams, 28, said she was looking ahead to eagerly awaited showdown.

Williams has every right to feel confident as over the past few months she has taken her grand slam tally to 12 while Sharapova is still trying to work out how far she can stretch her serving arm after enduring numerous shoulder problems.

But when two of the most recognisable faces in tennis and hardest hitters face off the world sits up to take notice and Sharapova is no different.

"I love playing against her. I love playing against the defending champion," said the 16th seed, who won the last of her three majors at the 2008 Australian Open.

l Rafael Nadal's bothersome right knee held up fine during a 40-minute practice at the All England Club during yesterday's day off. Nadal faces 66th-ranked Paul-Henri Mathieu of France today.

- Reuters

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