LONDON, England - Serena and Venus Williams advanced to the Olympic doubles final on Saturday and moved to within one win of an unprecedented third gold medal.
The match was a repeat of last month's second round thriller at Wimbledon and it proved to be every bit as engrossing. A solitary break at the end of each set was enough for the Williamses to triumph in a high-quality affair, eventually putting away the dogged Russians, 75 64.
Victory against Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in Sunday's final will not only see the siblings become the first team to strike gold three times, but also to emulate their fellow Americans Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez in defending their title.
Hlavackova and Hradecka will be no pushovers, though. They impressed during their semifinal win over top seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, and will be eager to exact revenge for their loss to the Williams sisters in this year's Wimbledon final.
"I think we'll just come out expecting to play good tennis and expecting our opponents to play well too," Venus said. "We won't be taking anything for granted and we'll give 100%. That's our goal for tomorrow."
As a result of Friday's show court matches overrunning, both teams were forced to play their semifinal and quarterfinal with just a few hours of rest in between.
However, the scheduling did not seem to adversely affect either team; Azarenka and Mirnyi saw off Sania Mirza and Leander Paes and No.3 seeds Lisa Raymond and Mike Bryan, while, to the delight of the Centre Court crowd, Robson and Murray won thrilling encounters with first Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur and then Sabine Lisicki and Christopher Kas.