Rio 2016: Day-4. Serena’s run is done

Serena Williams is out. Garbine Muguruza is gone. It was another day of upsets in Rio as the ladies thinned the field to the top-8, and the men completed their field of 16. Tuesday’s brightest stars: Elina Svitolina and Monica Puig. (UKR) Svitolina dispatched 4-time Gold Medalist Serena Williams in straight-sets, while (PUR) Monica Puig dominated the World #4 – only allowing Muguruza two-games in their 3rd-Round match.

(USA) Steve Johnson

(USA) Steve Johnson

Team USA went 3-for-4 on Tuesday. Steve Johnson and Jack Sock advanced to the Rio 2016 Olympic Doubles Semifinals. They’re now guaranteed a chance to medal. A win in the Semi’s lifts them to the Gold Medal match; should they fall, they’ll compete for Bronze. Madison Keys advanced to the Quarterfinals, while Steve Johnson also advanced to the 3rd-Round in the Men’s Singles Event.

Some other notable victories on Tuesday: Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy defeated the 7-seed David Ferrer, Fabio Fognini advanced with a 3rd-set tie-break win over the 16-seed Benoit Paire, and Johanna Konta took-out the 8-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets.

The Mixed Doubles Draw was released yesterday. To see the complete list of 16-teams and full-match recaps from Center Court, scroll below. Team USA partners include: Venus Williams / Rajeev Ram and Bethanie Mattek-Sands / Jack Sock.

Team USA

  • [7] (USA) Madison Keys def [9] (ESP) Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
  • [12] (USA) Steve Johnson def (POR) Gastao Elias 6-3, 6-4
  • (USA) S.Johnson/J.Sock def (ESP) R.B.Agut/D.Ferrer 6-4, 6-2
  • [15] (UKR) Elina Svitolina def [1] (USA) Serena Williams

[7] (USA) Madison Keys def [9] (ESP) C. Suarez Navarro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3


Carla Suarez Navarro is a tough-ask. The backhand’ll kill you. She’s a classic Chevy…and needs time for all her pistons to warm into a full-blown purr. That said, it’s mandatory to start quickly against the Spaniard. Madison Keys got the memo.

In set-1, the two split breaks before the first sit-down, then Madison broke again to go up 4-2, and served out the set. However, in the second, Suarez-Navarro opened-up the throttle, jumped out to 3-0 lead and drove off with the set.

Madison and Carla had played twice before; both three-setters, both Keys victories. Back in June, Madison took-out Suarez-Navarro en-route to her second career title in Birmingham. It ended in a 3rd-set tie-break. Tuesday’s clash appeared to be headed for the same outcome.

2016 saw Carla earn her second career title in Doha, though her Summer wasn’t going as planned. Two-weeks back, she fell in the 2nd-Round at Montreal. Meanwhile Madison played through the weekend, reaching the Rogers Cup Final versus Simona Halep. It was Madison’s 5th career Final – 3rd this year alone – and she comes into Rio with a career-high ranking of #9 in the World.

Set-3 got nervy. Neither could hold serve. The day prior, Madison took over 3-hours to dismiss Kristina Mladenovic. Suarez-Navarro needed only 2-sets to eliminate Ana Konjuh. The fatigue factor favored the World #12. The two traded breaks twice to start the set, then Madison laid any fatigue concerns to rest. She gained the upper-hand again, and served it out – advancing to the Rio 2016 Quarterfinals in her Olympic debut.

NEXT: (RUS) Daria Kasatkina

[2] (GBR) Andy Murray def (ARG) Juan Monaco 6-3, 6-1


Andy Murray hasn’t lost a match since the French Open Final in early June. Since then he’s won two titles, including his second Wimbledon Championship. I’ll just state the obvious and acknowledge the white elephant in the room: It’s been a fortunate Summer for the World #2. He hasn’t had to face Novak.

Yes, I know.

Andy beat Novak in straight-sets to win the title in Rome, but they’ve played three other Finals this year: Australian Open, Madrid and Roland Garros – all additional titles for the World #1. Novak’s early departure from Wimbledon certainly didn’t hurt Andy’s chances. The Serbian’s 1st-Round fall to Juan Martin Del Potro here in Rio could prove to be a similar lightning-rod.

Juan Monaco had one shining moment during his 2nd-Round clash with Andy. Down a break in set-1, he got back on serve with a cross court pass during a Murray approach. Argentinian fans hoped it was a sign the match would be competitive. It wasn’t. In 69-minutes, Andy dismantled Monaco 6-3, 6-1.

To be honest, it’s not a crushing blow for Pico. Like countryman Del Potro, he’s on the road back from wrist surgery. After the initial injury last August in Kitzbuhel, Juan rehabbed through January of this year and didn’t return to the tour until the South American swing in February. He’s had some promising wins – earning his 9th career title in Houston and defeating World #4 Stan Wawrinka in Rome. Defeating the reigning Gold Medalist in Rio was not high on his list of realistic expectations.

NEXT: (ITA) Fabio Fognini

[3] (ESP) Rafael Nadal def (ITA) Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-3

The wrist looks solid.

Rafael Nadal has been resting and rehabbing his biggest weapon since retiring from the French Open back in May. After missing the 2012 London Games with a knee injury, Beijing’s Gold Medalist targeted Rio 2016 for his return to the game…and fans have been eating it up.

(ESP) Rafael Nadal

(ESP) Rafael Nadal

So have the other athletes. We’ve heard countless stories of how Rafa can’t even sit down to eat at the Olympic Village without dozens of fellow athletes approaching him for autographs and “selfies.” When asked about it, Spain’s flag-bearer humbly explains that it’s a “privelege” to stay in the Village among the world’s best athletes, and he’s incredibly proud to represent his country at the Games. Winning Gold in Beijing left its mark. He values the Olympic experience. Making sure he could be healthy enough to compete in Rio was a top priority long before the injury.

He’s off to a great start. Argentina’s Federico Delbonis couldn’t test him, but the time on court got him back into his familiar, nearly obsessive-compulsive, competitive rhythm. The two doubles wins with partner Marc Lopez have helped, as well. The pair is into the Semifinals after wins over (NED) Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer, (ARG) Juan Martin Del Potro / Maximo Gonzalez, and (AUT) Oliver Marach / Alexander Peya.

Against Seppi on Tuesday, Rafa remained focused and determined, pounding forehands deep and scoring early breaks in both sets. Andreas put Rafa to work, extending rallies and trading ad’s, but the Italian couldn’t convert break points. Rafa is back – into the 3rd-Round of the Olympic Games – and simply put, the sport is better because of it.

NEXT: (FRA) Gilles Simon

[15] (UKR) Elina Svitolina def [1] (USA) Serena Williams


Fifth time’s a charm. World #20 Elina Svitolina pulled-off the biggest win of her career at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, defeating World #1 Serena Williams in straight-sets. They’d played four times before. Svitolina was 0-4. Back in May, she was only able to win two games off of Serena in a Round of 16 thumping at Roland Garros.

Tonight, it appears her game plan was simple: Crush the ball. Regroup. Crush the ball again. Basically use Serena’s power against her. Force Williams into a hitting contest. Serena took the bait.

Rather than tweak her own game-plan to slow the pace and pick her points of attack, Serena just kept whacking pace right back at Svitolina – giving Elina’s returns even more sting. Frustration took over in the second set and it started raining Serena double faults. Williams managed a break to level the set at 3-all, but another double fault gave the break right back in game-7. Svitolina won it on her third match point.

Welcome to the Rio de Janiero. Upset City at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games.

2016 has been a break-through year for Elina. In February, she scored a top-5 win over Garbine Muguruza in Dubai; then in March, earned her 4th career title in Kuala Lumpur. She jumped to a career-high ranking of #14 in the world. Since then, she’s fallen back to World #20. Perhaps the only one who expected a Svitolina win in Rio was Elina’s “special consultant,” Justin Henin. Coach Henin earned 6-wins off Serena during her career, including wins at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. I can’t think of a better well to source…

NEXT: (CZE) Petra Kvitova

(BRA) Thomaz Bellucci def [11] (URU) Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 4-6, 6-3


“BRA-ZIL! BRA-ZIL BRA-ZIL!”

Thomaz Bellucci is the last Brazilian hope here in Rio (though Marcelo Melo will be play Mixed Doubles with Teliana Pereira). He needed three-sets to take down Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, who is playing the best tennis of his career. In February, Pablo won back-to-back titles in Rio and Sao Paolo. In June, he was a Finalist in Nottingham. Last month in Hamburg, he reached his fourth Final of 2016 and climbed to a career-high ranking of #20 in the world. Tuesday night, it was him against an entire stadium of Brazilian fans…and Thomaz Bellucci.

Bellucci’s dropped to #54 in the world and found himself playing ATP Challenger events ramping up to the Games. He won Braunscheig, finaled in Biella, then shot back over the Atlantic to represent the home nation at Rio 2016. In Round-1, he was outplayed by Germany’s Dustin Brown; but Dustin went down late in set-2 – two torn ligaments in his ankle – and had to retire from the match. On Tuesday night, Thomaz would have to earn his spot in Round-3. Much to the fans’ delight, he triumped over the 11-seed in the decider.

The Rio 2016 Mixed Doubles Teams announced Tuesday…

  • (FRA) [1] Caroline Garcia / Nicolas Mahut
  • (FRA) [2] Kristina Mladenovic / Pierre-Higues Herbert
  • (ESP) [3] Garbine Muguruza / Rafael Nadal
  • (IND) [4] Sania Mirza / Rohan Bopanna
  • (USA) Bethanie Mattek-Sands / Jack Sock
  • (POL) Agnieszka Radwanska / Lukas Kubot
  • (ROU) Monica Niculescu / Florin Mergea
  • (AUS) Sam Stosur / John Peers
  • (NED) Kiki Bertens / Jean-Julien Rojer
  • (ITA) Roberta Vinci / Fabio Fognini
  • (BRA) Teliana Pereira / Mercelo Melo
  • (GBR) Johanna Konta / Jamie Murray
  • (CZE) Lucie Hradecka / Radek Stepanek
  • (ROU) Irina-Camelia Begu / Horia Tecau
  • (ESP) Carla Suarez Navarro / David Ferrer
  • (USA) Venus Williams / Rajeev Ram