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Angelique Kerber vs. Monica Puig: Preview for 2016 Olympic Tennis Women's Final

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2016

Germany's Angelique Kerber serves the ball to US player Madison Keys during their women's singles semi-finals tennis match at the Olympic Tennis Centre of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 12, 2016. / AFP / JAVIER SORIANO        (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
JAVIER SORIANO/Getty Images

Angelique Kerber of Germany will battle Puerto Rico starlet Monica Puig for the women's tennis gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games on Saturday after the pair navigated difficult matches in the last four.

Australian Open champion Kerber will be the overwhelming favourite to add Olympic gold to her achievements after eliminating Madison Keys of the United States, 6-3, 7-5.

World No. 34 Puig, 22, beat Petra Kvitova, shocking the 26-year-old, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

Kvitova will now face Keys in the bronze-medal match to fight for third.

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Currently rated the second-best women's tennis star on the planet, Kerber has experienced the best season of her career as she develops into a Grand Slam mainstay on the circuit, challenging for every trophy on offer.

The German has continued her red-hot form in Brazil and appears set for gold as she challenges an inexperienced opponent in the final.

Puig is a fresh, young talent, and she has shocked the watching crowds with her resilience and engine.

Charles Krupa/Associated Press
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The youngster is yet to reach the latter rounds of a major tournament, with her best showing coming at Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round in 2013.

The Puerto Rican couldn't face a tougher challenge to gain a surprise gold, as Kerber's confidence is her undoubted strength.

The German scooped the Aussie Open at the previous competition Down Under, and Serena Williams recently beat her in the final of Wimbledon after a strong tournament on grass.

Tennis writer Rene Denfeld hailed Kerber's consistent development as she becomes a modern champion in her sport:

René Denfeld @Renestance

It's just so tremendous to see how a player like Kerber can grow from year to year. And to see how Keys has come leaps and bounds since May.

Tennis Now highlighted the landmark for German tennis as Kerber chases glory in Rio:

TennisNow @Tennis_Now

Something to shout about: Kerber is the first German woman to claim an Olympic medal since Graf in 1992. https://t.co/wFq42QGZwS

Puig has burst on the scene at the 2016 Rio Games and will be unfamiliar to the casual sports fan following the Olympic event.

The tennis prodigy could claim her country's first-ever Olympic gold, according to AS, and Puig looked shocked as she prevailed in the semi-final.

She took to social media to express her delight:

Monica Puig @MonicaAce93

Never wake me up from this dream im living!!! Going for #gold tomorrow!!! 🏅❤️🇵🇷 #EquipoPUR #JuegosOlimpicos #Tenis https://t.co/jgT2nkLPYk

Puig said after defeating Kvitova, per AS:

It would be unbelievable to win the gold and it would be the biggest honour in the world. But the Olympics isn't about me, it's about Puerto Rico and I know how bad they want this. The island is full of such bad news all the time, so every time there's a Games and somebody from the Island wins a medal everything stops and I know how happy people get. So this one is not for me.

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Puig is assured of the silver medal, which would be a stunning achievement for a player who is yet to make a splash at a Grand Slam event.

However, any desire for gold is unlikely to come to fruition against a burgeoning superstar who has a knack of winning her toughest battles.

Kerber has the tactical game to make short work of her opponent in the final, and her wealth of experience accumulated in the past two years will serve her well.

Puig must not panic against the Germany representative, but she might struggle if Kerber immediately finds her rhythm from the opening game.

The Puerto Rico player has a puncher's chance of landing the gold medal on Saturday, but a defeat and silver will be no shame for the rising talent as she tries to make a name for herself.

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