Maria Sharapova is the best women's tennis player in the world. However, she has to prove it this year by winning the Olympic final against Serena Williams. Williams owns an eight wins to two advantage over the Russian beauty.
While that's not an insurmountable advantage, history shows that it is heavily weighted towards Williams in her victories. The last two matches have had the more dominant Williams win 6-3 and 6-1 in the two sets. She has been dominating the Russian in almost every match they have faced off.
To put this into perspective, the last time Sharapova beat Williams was in 2004 at the tour championships. Since then, Williams has dominated in each of the last seven matches. However, this should change in London as the Olympics are a completely different game in a location that evens everything out.
Sharapova's history versus the unflappable Williams sister in Wimbledon is going to be an advantage for her. She has been able to beat her once in dominant fashion. In their most recent matchup at the London courts, it went down to a tiebreaker or final game in each set. The courts at Wimbledon completely even out the competition between the two tennis stars.
Sharapova's strength on grass courts is heightened at Wimbledon, where she has had great success in the past few years. This year feels different for Sharapova. She has something that she normally doesn't have in other tournaments: confidence.
Maria just seems ready for anything in these games. She doesn't feel the individual pressures that she normally plays with. Now that she is in a gold medal match with a completely even opponent on a surface that she has had great success on, she will be in a great position to win gold.
Who will win gold in London?
Sharapova has been playing some of the best tennis of her life. She has been able to win big against some of the best tennis players in the world, and has been able to fight adversity and win close against the other competitors that are a good matchup.
The fact that they have always been close on the courts in London combined with the fact that at the Olympics anything can happen, means that this match will be one to watch. Add into all this that Sharapova has been playing some of the best tennis in her life, and she will end up winning a close one in the Olympic finals.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek and runs the NFL draft website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.