Garbine Muguruza and Venus Williams will battle it out in the 2017 Wimbledon women's final on Saturday, pitting one of the fastest-rising stars on the tour against a veteran looking to make history.
Muguruza has already won a Grand Slam title―last year's Roland Garros tournament―but is starting to add more consistency to her game, while Williams has won Wimbledon five times already. At 37, she's just one win away from adding another special mark to her resume, per ESPN Stats & Info:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
37-yr-old Venus Williams advances to Wimbledon final, where she'll try to become oldest women's Grand Slam champion in Open Era (since 1968)2017-7-13 15:11:24
Williams' resurgence has been remarkable. If she beats Muguruza, it will be her first Grand Slam title in almost a decade, with her most recent such triumph coming at Wimbledon in 2008.
According to the WTA's official website, the American leads the head-to-head 3-1. But Muguruza won their most recent encounter, earlier this year in Rome.
Muguruza's preparations for the tournament were rocky at best, highlighted by a one-sided beatdown at the hands of Barbora Strycova at Eastbourne in June. In years past, such a loss might have doomed her grass season, but the Spanish starlet picked herself up and altered her tactics going into Wimbledon.
Aggression has been key for Muguruza, who has advanced to the net as often as possible on her way to the final. Per tennis writer Tumaini Carayol, that tactic has worked for her in the past―she made it to the final in 2015:
Tumaini Carayol @tumcarayol
Muguruza approached the net a total of 127 times (73 in 2015, 54 today) in her two wins against Kerber at Wimbledon. Pretty insane.2017-7-10 13:08:36
Her serve has never been a major weapon, which makes her success on the faster grass courts all the more remarkable. Solid net presence and backhand winners are the name of the game for Muguruza.
Williams has used her power and experience to make it this far, picking her spots to attack and shining from the baseline. Her work in the return game has been spectacular, something Johanna Konta found out the hard way in the semi-finals despite dominating the ace-statistics.
The return should be Williams' best weapon against Muguruza, keeping her opponent off balance and away from the net. In the rallies, the American should have the advantage.
Prediction: This should be a fantastic final, with both players peaking at just the right time. There's little to separate the two, but the fresher legs of the younger challenger could be the difference. Muguruza in three sets.