In one of his worst defeats in recent memory, world no.1 Novak Djokovic fell in the first round of the Rio Games. It was believed earlier that Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro could prove a tough opponent but the Serbian’s loss had never figured in the talk. The 12-time Grand Slam winner had added a Masters victory at Toronto’s Rogers Cup to his resume less than 10 days ago and looked in great form. But del Potro played amazingly and used his ferocious forehand to a telling effect to shock the celebrated Serb. Tennis at Rio began with upsets on first day and the trend continued on the second day as well. Serena and Venus Williams suffered their first doubles defeat at the Olympics after an amazing 15-0 record since they began playing together at Sydney. But all good things finally come to an end. The sisters were handed a stunning defeat by the Czech duo of Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova. Great Britain’s Andy Murray also lost in doubles playing with his brother Jamie. In another second day upset, men’s doubles top seeded French team of Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut exited in the first round.
Novak Djokovic’s first round loss at Rio Olympics occupied the biggest media attention. The teary-eyed Serb left the court in utter disappointment after losing to Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro on Sunday. This was the second instance in 2016 that the world no.1 has made an early exit from an important tennis event after Wimbledon. Djokovic had come to Rio, to add the Olympic gold to his 12 Grand Slam titles. But the Argentine showed his true worth against the world’s best tennis player. The 2009 US Open champion del Potro has been plagued with a wrist injury since 2010, when he was world no.4. He underwent his first surgery in 2010 and two more in 2014 and 2015. His long absence from tennis hit his world ranking and today he is no.145. He still cannot make his backhand work to his advantage but against Djokovic on Sunday, he was able to produce rocket-like shots from his famous forehand. 40 stunning winners emanated from del Potro’s racket that the helpless Djokovic saw passing by. Earlier in the day, del Potro was stuck in a mal-functioning lift at Games’ Village, where he had been rescued by his nation’s handball team. With del Potro’s forehand functioning on top, he built a heavy pressure on the Serb in the repeat of their bronze medal match of the 2012 London Games. Djokovic was the loser in London. On Sunday, the Serb needed to save seven breaks of serves in the two sets, both of which were finally decided in tiebreaks. The heavily-built Argentine assumed the upper hand in both tiebreaks to win 7-6, 7-6 to set up a second-round clash with Portugal’s Joao Sousa. After the match ended, both players cried as they hugged one another at the net.
Venus Williams’ long Olympic journey has nearly ended. She lost her singles match on Saturday and on Sunday, playing with sister Serena Williams; she lost the doubles as well. The three-time Olympic doubles champions took to the court against Czechs Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova with a 15-0 Olympic record in doubles but suffered their first and perhaps the last defeat in the quadrennial Games. Safaraova/Strycova dominated from start and never allowed Venus/Serena to settle down in their 6-3, 6-4 victory. Like Williams sisters, Murray brothers Andy and Jamie also lost in men’s doubles in the first round to Brazilians Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa. It was a hard fought match which was decided in two tiebreaks with the second set tiebreak going to 16-14. The Murrays saved 6 match points, and wasted 5 set points in a classic, before Bellucci/Sa completed the win 7-6, 7-6 to the raucous cheers by local crowd. In another major upset in men’s doubles, Frenchmen Pierre Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut suffered a shock 6-7, 3-6 loss against Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah.
Earlier in the day, Serena Williams entered women’s singles second round with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Australia’s Daria Gavrilova while Andy Murray also had an easy 6-3, 6-2 victory over Serbia’s Viktor Troicki. In other notable results, Spain’s Rafael Nadal defeated Argentina’s Federico Delbonis 6-2, 6-1. The 2008 Beijing gold medalist looked good against Delbonis on his comeback from wrist injury. British woman Johanna Konta beat Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein 6-3, 6-1 and German second seed Angelique Kerber defeated Colombia’s Mariana Duque-Marino 6-3, 7-5.