When and where: The women's gold medal Match gets underway following the Bronze medal match between Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko, which starts at 7 a.m. ET on Saturday. Coverage will be provided by NBC, with a live stream available on NBCOlympics.com.
Serena Williams is looking to enter the history books with a Career Golden Slam.
Preview: Saturday's gold medal match will be a clash between two of the most prominent names in women's sports. Serena Williams of the United States will face Russia's Maria Sharapova on Centre Court of the All England Club.
Both stars will be competing for their first Olympic singles gold medal, but it is Williams who has the chance to win a coveted career Golden Slam --all four Grand Slam titles and the Olympic gold medal. The only players who have accomplished this feat are Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, and Rafael Nadal.
Third-ranked Sharapova was the first of the pair to move into the final on Friday with a quick 6-2, 6-3 victory over compatriot Maria Kirilenko. Sharapova powered past her opponent with 26 ground-stroke winners and six aces.
Soon after, Williams cruised past world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-2, in just over one hour of play. The American maintained her dominant serve and closed the match with her 16th ace. Williams complimented her strong serving with her nearly flawless ground strokes, which produced 16 winners and only five unforced errors.
Williams is now on a 16-match winning streak since her shocking first round French Open exit in May. She will be looking to end Russia's dominance at the Olympic Games, which included a sweep of the medals in Beijing, when Elena Dementieva won gold, Dinara Safina took silver, and Vera Zvonareva captured bronze.
With both Sharapova and Williams seeking their first Olympic singles gold medal, the match carries a great deal of importance for both players. Williams has a career edge over the Russian with 8-2 all-time record, which includes a victory on the clay courts of Madrid earlier this year.
The two have met twice at Wimbledon. Sharapova stunned Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final but the American defeated the Russian in the fourth round in 2010. However, it seems that both players have produced some of the best tennis of their careers this season.
On Saturday, both players will likely rely heavily on their serve. Williams has consistently served more than 10 aces per match since Wimbledon and will need to secure a high first-serve percentage against Sharapova to continue that dominance.
Sharapova possesses one of the best service returns in the women's game. If the Russian can anticipate well, she may be able to neutralize Williams's serve, but that will be no easy task.
Sharapova, on the other hand, has served rather inconsistently throughout the year. At times, she has been able to use her serve to power past opponent and pick up easy points, but has also been known to double fault frequently. Against Kirilenko, she hit four double faults and six aces and had a first-serve percentage of 68.
While that is not a particularly low number, she will need to improve her first-serve percentage in order to dictate the tone of the match. The more second serves Williams sees, the more chances she has to blast past the Russian.
Both players play aggressively from the baseline and typically overpower opponents. Expect both players to hit many winners. Saturday's gold medalist will ultimately be the player who serves well and commits fewer unforced errors.
Should Sharapova serve well and contain Williams's big serve, the Russian may be able to bring home gold. However, Williams has been serving so well and has played so consistently at the Games that she is the favorite.
Prediction: Williams in two close sets
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