LONDON (Reuters) - Russian flag bearer Maria Sharapova reached the Olympic women's singles final with 6-2 6-3 victory over compatriot Maria Kirilenko at Wimbledon on Friday.
The third seed, competing at the Games for the first time, will now hope to emulate Elena Dementieva who won gold in the event for Russia in Beijing four years ago.
Sharapova, wearing a dashing red shirt, was made to fight by Kirilenko in the second set but claimed victory with a volleyed winner on her second match point before blowing kisses to the fans watching on Court One.
She will face either Wimbledon champion Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka for gold.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Mark Meadows; email@example.com; Reuters Messaging:; firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 20 7542 7933; For all the latest; Olympic news go to http://www.reuters.com/london-olympics-2012)