Olympic Final Preview
Published August 03, 2012 11:59
LONDON, England - History awaits for either Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova on Saturday, with both players bidding to capture Olympic gold and become just the second player in history to complete the Golden Slam.
 Serena Williams (USA #4) vs.  Maria Sharapova (RUS #3)
Head-to-head: Williams leads 8-2
On Saturday afternoon, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have the opportunity to capture the only major prize to have eluded them in their glittering careers: an Olympic singles gold medal. Both players have impressed en route to the final, Williams carrying on from where she left off at Wimbledon with a series of blistering performances, and Sharapova looking better with each passing round.
In a match-up between two great frontrunners and arguably the cleanest ball strikers on tour, making a good start is of paramount importance. Williams, who often eases herself into tournaments, has come out all guns blazing from the first round, dropping just 16 games in a run to the final that has included World No.1 Victoria Azarenka and two former incumbents of the position.
Central to her success has been an imperious serving display - she has delivered 50 aces and faced only five break points - and backed up by her usual ferocious groundstrokes, Sharapova is presented with an unenviable task. However, one thing certainly not lacking in the Russian is self belief, and if she can replicate the displays of controlled baseline aggression seen against Kim Clijsters and Maria Kirilenko in the last two rounds then she can trouble Williams.
They have met on 10 previous occasions, with Williams coming out on top in the last seven. Two of these have been on the grass of the All-England Club, Sharapova triumphing in the 2004 final before Williams gained revenge with a fourth round win six years later.
Williams: "I really look forward to playing Maria. I haven't played her in a while. We always have good matches. She has improved so much. It will be interesting. She's ranked higher than I am so, again, I have nothing to lose."
Sharapova: "It's incredible, not only to be a part of this event and be an Olympian, but to put yourself in with an opportunity to go for gold. It's a really nice feeling."
Road To The Final
First Round: d. Jelena Jankovic, 63 61 (1:01)
Second Round: d. Urszula Radwanska, 62 63 (1:13)
Third Round: d. Vera Zvonareva, 61 60 (0:51)
Quarterfinals: d. Caroline Wozniacki, 60 63 (1:17)
Semifinals: d. Victoria Azarenka, 61 62 (1:03)
First Round: d. Shahar Peer, 62 60 (1:05)
Second Round: d. Laura Robson, 76(5) 63 (1:46)
Third Round: d. Sabine Lisicki, 67(8) 64 63 (2:47)
Quarterfinals: d. Kim Clijsters, 62 75 (1:27)
Semifinals: d. Maria Kirilenko, 62 63 (1:29)
Also on court...
Losing semifinalists Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko face one another in the bronze medal play-off, while Williams and her sister Venus continue their quest for a third doubles gold with a semifinal against Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova.