Both of their previous matches have gone the distance: Sharapova edged Barty last year in Rome, while the world No. 2 squeaked by the five-time Grand Slam champion, 6-4 in the third, at this year’s Australian Open.
The two players will put forth an entertaining clash of styles. The Russian and her pancake-flat groundstrokes will try and overpower the Aussie’s spin variety and all-court prowess.
“Not an easy match and really not an easy matchup for me,” Sharapova. “I think she does a lot of things well. She's a tricky opponent.”
While Barty enters the match as a prohibitive favorite according to the oddsmakers, she has been shaking off some rust after her brilliant summer. She admitted she didn’t pick up a racquet for about two weeks after Wimbledon. Last week, she bowed out in her opening match in Toronto to Sofia Kenin.
Sharapova, who defeated a red-hot Alison Riske on Monday, has been hitting the practice court with her famous intensity.
“I got here a few days early, I had a couple double sessions,” the world No. 97 said. “I just spent hours on the court.”
Despite Barty's lack of match play in recent weeks, her uncanny ability to handle pace with her patented variety should give her the advantage in this electric early-round matchup of Grand Slam champions.