Now tennis at Rio doesn’t have both Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams in the main draw. With Serena’s unceremonious exit on Tuesday, 2016 Games’ tennis gold medal will not be won by any of the two world’s no.1 players. Of the two Williams sisters, Venus is still in the mixed doubles draw, where she plays her first match on Thursday with Rajeev Ram. In this category, India’s challenge will be led by the combo of Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza. Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray made expected progress to the third round in men’s singles draw and if they keep winning, they can only meet each other in the gold medal match. Serena’s exit was followed by the ouster of no.3 seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and the scenario has blown open the women’s singles draw. However, the no.2 seed Germany’s Angelique Kerber is still around and also the current favorite for the Olympic gold medal. But Kerber has to first get past Great Britain’s Johanna Konta in the quarterfinal.
Serena Williams’ dream of collecting a pair of Olympic singles gold vanished in thin air on Tuesday. The reigning Olympic champion played wretchedly against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the third round and truly deserved to lose after committing five double faults in just one game. With Serena falling to her own unforced errors early in the first set, the Ukrainian jumped to a 2-1 lead. Unlike Serena, her opponent missed little and pocketed the first set easily. It wasn’t any different in the second set, when Svitolina broke Serena’s serve early and looked like romping home easily. But the American world no.1 briefly offered some resistance to draw level at 3-3 by a break-back. However, it was the seventh game that marked Serena’s exit. She dished out five double faults and allowed the Ukrainian to lead 4-3. From here, Svitolina was not to look back and finished Serena’s ordeal with a 6-4, 6-3 victory. Svitolina amassed 63 winners but most of them came from Serena’s errors; 37 unforced and 15 forced. It was a sad way to go for Serena, who had been plagued by injury concern all through the current tennis season.
Serena was not the only seeded player to make the exit on Tuesday. Joining her out of Olympics was French Open champion and no.3 seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, who was handed a crushing 6-1, 6-1 defeat by Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig. The Puerto Rican had never beaten any of women’s top five seeds and she couldn’t have expected to sail into the quarterfinals with such ease. But she played brilliantly as Muguruza lapsed into errors. Puig could reach the semifinal if she beats Germany’s Laura Siegemund next. The German came through with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Venus Williams’ conqueror Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium. No.2 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany scored an easy 6-0, 7-5 victory over Australian 13th seeded Samantha Stosur and she next runs into GBR’s Johanna Konta for a place in the semifinals. Konta fought hard against Russian 8th seed Svetlana Kutznetsova before winning at 3-6, 7-5, 7-5. In two other quarterfinals in women’s draw, USA’s Madison Keys will play against Russia’s Daria Kasatkina and Svitolina squares up with Czech woman Petra Kvitova.
Since rain washed out Wednesday’s matches, the schedule for Thursday could prove tough for Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard has progressed impressively so far and he has won all his singles and doubles matches. On Thursday, however, he will need to play three times. First, he plays in the singles against Frenchman Gilles Simon and later with Marc Lopez, Nadal takes on Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil. Later in the day, Nadal and Garbine Muguruza will play in mixed doubles first round against the Czech team of Lucie Hradecka and Radek Stepanek. In his second round match against Italian Andreas Seppi, Nadal coasted to an easy 6-3, 6-3 victory and reached the men’s doubles quarterfinals with Lopez with a 6-3, 5-7 6-2 victory over Argentina’s Maximo Gonzales and Juan Martin del Potro. Great Britain’s Andy Murray also recorded an easy 6-3, 6-1 second round win over Juan Monaco of Argentina and his third round match will be against Italian Fabio Fognini. Though the Briton is already out of men’s and mixed doubles draw, he looks on course for his second successive Olympic gold.
In other upcoming men’s singles matches, Croatia’s Marin Cilic takes on Frenchman Gael Monfils; Argentinian del Potro plays against Japanese Taro Daniel; the other Japanese Kei Nishikori squares up with Slovak Andrej Martin; Belgian David Goffin meets Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci; USA’s Steve Johnson plays with Russian Evgeny Donskoy and Spain’s Roberta Bautista Agut takes on Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.