Russia's Maria Sharapova celebrates after winning her third round match against Lauren Davis of the U.S. at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

After some thrilling and breathtaking tennis in the opening rounds, it’s time for the far more crucial and mouth watering fixtures. One such clash will be a meeting of the generations, as the Swiss sensation Belinda Bencic takes on the Russian powerhouse and a former champion here, Maria Sharapova.

bencic
Belinda Bencic

This will be a new territory for Bencic, her first round of 16 appearance and her first against Sharapova. She has been the most promising young talent on the tour, breaking her way into the top 20 last year and has been playing some splendid tennis over the last few months. Sharapova on the other hand, has been trying to make up for the slip she had towards the end of 2015 due to an injury.

Bencic, who has the support of Martina Hingis’s mother in her coaching staff, has looked far more confident in her shot making, something she’d definitely need against the variety and power that Masha generates in her strokes. Having beaten Serena last year, Bencic knows how to take down the big guns of tennis and has enough in her arsenal to cause a not-so-shocking upset.

“ When I played last year I was very nervous. I didn’t really know what to do on the court. Now I’ve got a lot of confidence…” said the 19 year old.

Seeded 5, it’s a tough journey to the last four for Sharapova and Bencic will be her first stiff test down under. Having scaled unprecedented heights herself, at just 17, Masha knows what Benic’s mental state will be like when they meet on Saturday. It’ll be something that would give her that little edge, needless to say her experience will be a big factor too in the big points tomorrow.

The winner will earn an almost certain chance to have a crack at Serena Williams in the quarter final. Our Pick? Sharapova in three.

Stating the obvious now, Bencic will be a tougher opponent for Serena and we all know why!

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