The women’s event learned the quarter-finals line-up at Tokyo 2020 on Tuesday with comebacks and historic wins on the menu.
Olympics: Osaka out as Vondrousova joins medal march
Women's Round of 16, end of the second round for men: the key news of this fourth Olympic day!
Osaka: "Really happy with my first Olympic experience"
Marketa Vondrousova has risen to the occasion within the Grand Slam arena and is now making her mark in Czech colours.
The 2019 Roland-Garros finalist headed to Tokyo 2020 having lost four out of her last five matches. Now the 22-year-old has pulled off her “biggest win,” firing down 18 winners to post a memorable 6-1, 6-4 victory over world No.2 Naomi Osaka.
“I beat Simona Halep twice, but I think Naomi, she is the greatest in the game, and she’s also the face of the Olympics,” stated the Czech left-hander. “It was tough for her, I think, to play like this. But I’m too happy now.”
Osaka, the reigning Australian Open and US Open champion, had won 25 of her last 26 hard court matches and looked in imperious form in the opening rounds.
“I wasn’t playing under pressure, the first set was amazing but of course the second set was tight, so I was a bit under pressure then, those two match points and then deuce,” said the world No.42, breaking in the final game to close out, before acknowledging the intense spotlight on her opponent.
“It’s so much pressure, I cannot imagine,” added the Czech. “I know how it is to be under pressure, it’s tough. But I think she didn’t play a bad match, staying calm, and she was fighting until the very end.”
The Japanese star bemoaned being hampered by the intensity and pressure of performing on home soil at her first Olympic Games.
“For me, I feel like I should be used to it by now. But at the same time, I think the scale of everything is a bit higher because of the break that I took,” reflected the four-time Grand Slam champion. “I’m glad I didn’t lose in the first round, at least."
“I’m really glad to be here. I’m sad that I lost, of course, but all in all really happy with my first Olympic experience.”
Bencic buoyed by privilege
Switzerland have enjoyed plenty of Olympic success over the years within the confines of the tennis court and Belinda Bencic is now building plenty of her own momentum.
Following commanding wins over Jessica Pegula and Misaki Doi, the No.9 seed battled back 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 against Roland-Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova to book a last eight encounter with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
“I definitely don’t feel it,” insisted Bencic, avoiding any talk of expectations. “I think in a country like we have with Switzerland, I think the people are expecting very much, how do you say in nice words… spoiled to have good results.
“I’m just really grateful that I can be one of them. I never imagined that I could be in this era of Swiss tennis. I’m very happy I can actually be here. I’m not taking it as a pressure, but as a privilege.”
Who can emerge for a medal match?
Meanwhile, Pavlyuchenkova continued to power towards a medal shot.
The Russian dismantled in-form Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 6-3 to set a record for the fewest games dropped (seven) into the last eight of the women’s singles since Olympic tennis returned as a full-medal sport at Seoul 1988.
As proven already, no seed is safe in Tokyo and Italy’s Camila Giorgi added to the fireworks with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-2 scoreline over Wimbledon finalist and No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova.
Giorgi’s reward is a quarter-final ticket against world No.6 Elina Svitolina, the highest ranked woman left in the field. The Ukrainian edged a high-quality contest with Maria Sakkari 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to replicate her last eight showing at Rio 2016.
Completing the quarter-final line-up, two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza is somehow still flying under the radar, breezing past Alison van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-1 to advance to face Elena Rybakina.
Tsitsipas locks in Humbert rematch
No.3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas felt his attitude let him down during a one-sided straight-sets loss to Frances Tiafoe in the Wimbledon opening round last month.
However, the Greek gained revenge on Tuesday, soaring into the men’s third round with an assured 6-3, 6-4 passage past the American, who aptly summed up the difference on the day; “He’s a good player. He’s where he is for a reason."
Tsitsipas has his work cut out in the last 16 in a rematch with French charge Ugo Humbert. The world No.28, squeezing past Miomir Kecmanovic 7-5 in the decider, won his only previous clash with Tsitsipas in a three-set thriller at the 2020 Rolex Paris Masters.
Finally, a week before Tokyo 2020 Liam Broady wasn’t in the Team GB squad. Now as a late call-up, the world No.143 has cracked the third round on Olympics debut.
The Brit dismissed Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 with his career-best win. France’s Jeremy Chardy awaits.