Day-2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games saw Rafael Nadal‘s return – His first match since May’s wrist injury forced him to withdraw from Roland Garros. He didn’t disappoint, dismantling (ARG) Federico Delbonis in straight-sets 6-2, 6-1.
The 3-time Olympic Gold Medal tandem of Venus and Serena Williams fell in Round-1 to Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova. Word from Coach Mary Jo Fernandez is that Venus hasn’t been feeling well since arriving in Rio, perhaps suffering from a virus she picked up before making the trek. With her singles loss to Flipkens yesterday and the doubles loss today, Venus’ Olympic journey is done.
The good news? Overall, Team USA went 4 for 5 on Sunday, including a huge win from Brian Baker and Rajeev Ram over the 4-seeds Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
-  (USA) Serena Williams def (AUS) Daria Gavrilova 6-4, 6-2
- (USA) B.Mattek-Sands/C.Vandeweghe def (ESP) A.M.Garrigues/A.Parra-Santonja 6-1, 6-1
- (USA) S.Johnson/J.Sock def (CHI) J.Peralta/H.Podlipnik-Castillo 6-2, 6-2
- B.Baker/R.Ram def  (FRA) G.Monfils/J.W.Tsonga 6-1, 6-4
- (CZE) L.Safarova/B.Strycova def (USA) S.Williams/V.Williams 6-3, 6-4
(BRA) Thomaz Bellucci def (GER) Dustin Brown 6-4, 4-5 [RET]
Heartbreaker for Dustin Brown. This was Dreddy’s first Olympics. He’s been soaking-in every moment since he arrived. His credential is covered with traded Olympic pins. After the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night, he tweeted that he was “beyond happy to be able to enjoy one of the best moments of my life.”
Representing Germany in Rio was a life-long dream that finally came true thanks to years of patience, persistence and traveling to the ends of the earth to do what he loves. To have his Olympic journey come to an abrupt halt, up a set and on-serve in the second, was an emotional kick in the nuts.
Despite an entire stadium rooting against him – and despite the howling wind – Dustin pieced together 67-minutes of creative craftsmanship. He handled the gale-force conditions far better than Bellucci and was on a path to his first Olympic win.
Then he rolled an ankle.
On serve, 4-5 in the second, Dustin got half-way to the net for a volley and immediately collapsed to the court, clutching his left ankle. Olympic dream…one and done. He’ll leave Rio with two torn ligaments.
With the retirement, Thomaz Bellucci advances to Round-2, keeping Brazilian tennis fans’ hopes alive.
NEXT:  (URU) Pablo Cuevas
 (USA) Serena Williams def (AUS) Daria Gavrilova 6-4, 6-2
Serena Williams just won her 22nd career Grand Slam Singles Title at Wimbledon. She and Steffi Graf now share the record for the most Major titles won by a tennis player (male or female) in the Open Era. After today, she’s a remarkable 32-4 on the season. Her only losses in 2016 have come from Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open Final, Victoria Azarenka in the Indian Wells Final, Svetlana Kuznetsova in Miami’s Round of 16, and Garbine Muguruza in the Final at Roland Garros.
Have I mentioned that she’s the defending Olympic Champion?
Let’s be honest. If anyone’s a lock to medal in Rio, it’s Serena.
Daria Gavrilova – who’s had 2-wins over Petra Kvitova and a win over Simona Halep this year – managed to land a few body blows in Round-1, but nothing substantial enough to make Serena wince. Serena’s biggest opponents were the windy conditions and distractingly sloppy ballkids. Once she settled into the court’s reality, Williams became familiarly impervious, easily dismissing her Aussie opponent in straight-sets.
NEXT: (FRA) Alize Cornet
 (GBR) Andy Murray def (SRB) Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-2
Make it 8-0 for Andy Murray against Viktor Troiki. It took a game or two for the 2012 Gold Medalist to adjust to the cooler conditions that settled in after the morning’s wind storm. He and Troicki traded breaks to start the match. Then Murray got to work. Andy protected his serve the rest of the way, delivered three more breaks, and stolled-off Center Court in an hour and 20-minutes with a straight-sets win.
The World #2 comes into Rio after winning his 2nd Wimbledon Championship. In fact, Andy hasn’t lost a match since falling to Novak Djokovic two months ago in the French Open Final.
How impressive has Britain’s best been this year? Let’s walk through it…
January: Australian Open Final // February: A pair of Davis Cup wins // March: A sub-par Spring with early exits at Indian Wells and Miami // April: Semifinalist in Monte Carlo // May: Finalist in Madrid, 36th career title in Rome // June: Finalist at the French Open, 37th career title at the Aegon Championships // July: 38th career title at Wimbledon.
He’s 40-6 on the season. That’s impressive.
NEXT: (ARG) Juan Monaco
 (ESP) Garbine Muguruza vs (ROM) Andreea Mitu
The night session’s first match was supposed to feature a 1st-Round clash between Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Jankovic; however, shortly before play, Jelena’s camp announced that she couldn’t compete because of a “ruptured pectoral muscle.”
On site for her Sunday night doubles match with partner Raluca Olaru, the 24-year-old Romanian was tapped to be Jelena’s replacement. Imagine THAT being your Olympic debut – finding out just hours before that you’re in the Singles draw, taking on the reigning French Open Champion…
Mitu and Muguruza have a history. Andreea won their only previous match, 5-years-ago in Romania. It appeared Mitu was completely unintimidated by the moment, winning the first two games…but that didn’t last long. Garbine turned it around immediately and took the first set 6-2. She cruised through the 2nd-set as well, advancing to Round-2 in just 72-minutes.
NEXT: (JPN) Nao Hibino
(ARG) Juan Martin del Potro def (SRB) Novak Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-6(2)
Rowdy crowd on Center for Djokovic and Del Potro’s 15th-meeting. It was the first time they’d gone toe-to-toe since Novak’s win at the ATP World Tour Finals 3-years-ago, and a rematch of London’s Bronze Medal match won by DelPo in straight-sets.
When Novak erased a DelPo break chance in set-1, fans erupted into a chorus of “DJOKO…DJOKO…” – which quickly transitioned into chants of “DELPO…DELPO…” Novak and Juan both stood back from the baseline, applauding for each other during their opponent’s chorus. I’m not sure it translates on television, but for fans and the athletes, these Olympic Games have been great fun with more of a futbol atmosphere during play.
During a point early in the second, Novak ran the big Argentine all over the court, finishing with a crazy lob just out of Juan’s reach. Again, the two applauded each other. Juan – for the artful lob. Novak – for the effort. Clearly these two were adoring the moment, renewing a rivalry rooted in respect. The fans were on-board.
The deeper we got into the 2nd-set, the more the match begin to feel like a Slam Semifinal – with that all-too-familiar anxious energy filling the stadium. Down 5-4, Novak got tentative serving to stay in it and faced a match point. But as we’ve seen time and again, he focused-up, erased the MP and leveled the set with a backhand pass up the line.
In the tiebreak, DelPo opened with an ace, then jumped ahead 3-0 with two forehand passes. He was up 5-0 before Novak could get on the board. Incredibly, Del Potro only allowed Djokovic two points in the tie-break to earn his spot in Round-2.
And just like that…World #1 Novak Djokovic is out in the first round of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Remarkable. He and DelPo shared a long hug at the net; an embrace that hopefully signifies Juan Martin Del Potro’s long-term, HEALTHY return to the top of the sport.
NEXT: (POR) Joao Sousa