While Leander Paes of India made his 7th Olympic appearance at Rio, Venus Williams of the USA wasn’t far behind. She entered the Olympics for the 5th time. However, both Leander and Venus met with losses on the first day of the tennis action. While Paes playing with Rohan Bopanna in doubles; lost in two sets to Poland’s Lukasz Kubot/Marcin Matkowski, Venus fell from the brink of victory. While serving for the match at 5-3 in the final set, the 36-year old American veteran lost her nerves and went down against the Belgian world no.62 Kirsten Flipkens. These were not the only upsets on first day. Including the no.5 seed Venus, three of the top six seeded players have exited the women’s singles draw. The biggest upset came the way of Poland’s no.4 seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who was shocked by China’s world no.64 Zheng Saisai. Also exiting early was no.6 seeded Italian Roberta Vinci, who lost in straight sets to Slovakia’s Karolina Schmiedlova. In men’s singles draw, Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils won their first-round matches but top seed Novak Djokovic and no.2 seed Andy Murray are yet to begin their campaign. There are two stars in Rio Olympics, who are on the verge of winning consecutive gold medals and one of them is Murray. The other is women’s world no.1 Serena Williams but she has also not played her first match yet.
India’s Rio Olympic challenge in men and women’s doubles is over with the first-round defeats of Leander Paes & Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza & Prarthana Thombare on August 6. While Paes/Bopanna lost to the Polish pair of Lukasz Kubot/Marcin Matkowski in straight sets 4-6, 6-7, Sania/Prarthana fought hard against their Chinese opponents Shuai Peng/Shuai Zhang before going down 6-7, 7-5, 5-7. The opening day of tennis action also brought disappointment for the US veteran Venus Williams, who has four Olympic gold medals against her name, one of which she won in women singles in 2000 Sydney Games. She also won the doubles gold at Sydney with Sister Serena and two more doubles gold medals with her in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games. On Saturday, she had come close to her first round victory against Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens with a 4-1 lead in the final set. Then Venus lost her grip on the game as she prepared to serve out the match at 5-3. The Belgian roared back into the match by stealing point after point from Venus and took the set to tiebreak. Then Flipkens wrested the initiative from Venus at 7-5 to finish victorious at 4-6, 6-3, 7-6. Unlike Leander Paes, Venus still has some life left in the doubles, where she plays the first round match with Serena on Sunday against Czech women Lucie Safarova & Barbora Strycova.
The first day of tennis at the Rio Olympics brought some shocking results. Besides Venus Williams, two other seeded women made their exits. Poland’s no.4 seeded Agnieszka Radwanska suffered an unexpected 4-6, 5-7 defeat against China’s little known Zheng Saisai. Radwanska was expected to sail easily through the medal rounds and first round loss had not been one of her worries. But in any game, it is always the performance of the day which matters. Also losing early was no.6 seeded Italian Roberta Vinci, who lost in straight sets 5-7, 4-6 to Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. Among first day winners in women’s draw were Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who defeated USA’s Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-3; Romania’s Monica Niculescu, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Paraguayan Veronica Cepede Royg; Italian Sara Errani, who defeated Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; Czech Barbora Strycova defeated Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 7-6, 6-1; Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic 2-6, 6-1, 6-2; Croatia’s Ana Konjuh beat German Annika Beck 7-6, 6-1; French Kristina Mladenovic beat Serbian Aleksandra Krunic 6-1, 6-4; USA’s Madison Keys defeated Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3; Czech Lucie Safarova finished a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 winner over Italian Karin Knapp; Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina beat Germany’s Andrea Petkovic 2-6, 6-1, 6-3; Great Britain’s Heather Watson defeated China’s Shuai Peng 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 and in one minor upset, Swiss no.12 seed Timea Bacsinszky lost a three-set battle 7-6, 4-6, 6-7 against China’s Shuai Zhang.
In men’s singles draw, Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils made expected progress to the second round. Tsonga defeated Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 4-6, 7-5, 6-3; Simon beat Croatia’s Borna Coric 6-4, 7-6 and Monfils scored an easy 6-1, 6-3 victory over Canadian Vasek Pospisil. In other major results in men’s draw, Croatia’s Marin Cilic beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4; Germany’s Philipp Kohlsscrieber defeated Argentina’s Dudi Sela 4-6, 6-1, 6-2; Slovak Andrej Martin beat USA’s Denis Kundla 6-0, 6-3; Japan’s Kei Nishikori defeated Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-4; USA’s John Millman whitewashed Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 6-0, 6-0; Italian Andreas Seppi struggled to beat Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko 6-3, 3-6, 7-6; USA’s Jack Sock beat Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-4 and Great Britain’s Kyle Edmunds defeated Australia’s Jordan Thompson 6-4, 6-2.
On Sunday, the top 3 seeded players in men and women’s singles events will be seen in action at the Barra Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. While men’s no.2 seed Andy Murray has a rather easy draw in facing Serbia’s Viktor Troicki, top seed Novak Djokovic is pitted against the tricky Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro. Women’s top seed Serena Williams also has a dangerous opponent in Australia’s Daria Gavrilova.