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Tokyo Olympics tennis in review: Biggest names bounced early

Tokyo Olympics tennis in review: Biggest names bounced early
Posted at 9:33 PM, Aug 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 00:51:37-04

Much of the narrative surrounding tennis at the Tokyo Olympic Games was determined in the weeks prior, as major star after major star opted out for a variety of reasons. That included Serena Williams, defending champion Monica PuigRoger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, just to name a few. 

Two major storylines remained, however: Novak Djokovic's quest for the calendar Golden Slam (winning all four Grand Slams plus the Olympics in one year) and his first Olympic gold, and Naomi Osaka's return to competition to represent her country after a high-profile hiatus. While both got out to strong starts, neither delivered. 

Relive the top moments from each discipline below. 

FULL GOLD MEDAL MATCH REPLAYS: Women's Singles | Men's Singles | Women's Doubles | Men's Doubles | Mixed Doubles

FULL BRONZE MEDAL MATCH REPLAYS: Women's Singles | Men's Singles | Women's Doubles | Men's Doubles

Medal table

Country
Gold Silver Bronze Total
ROC
1 2 0 3
Croatia
1 1 0 2
Czech Republic
1 1 0 2
Switzerland
1
1 0 2
Germany 1 0 0 1
Australia 0 0 1 1
Brazil 0 0 1 1
Spain 0 0 1 1
New Zealand 0 0 1 1
Ukraine 0 0 1 1

Women's singles

Women's tennis at the Olympics got off to a hot start with world No. 2 Naomi Osaka serving as the final torchbearer in the Opening Ceremony, lighting the Olympic cauldron and calling it "the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life." She was the first tennis player to get the nod.

SEE MORE: Naomi Osaka lights Olympic cauldron at Tokyo Opening Ceremony

Playing her first matches after a two-month hiatus from the sport, Osaka cruised through the first two rounds, but was knocked out in a third-round loss to Czech player Marketa Vondrousova. Her loss was far from being the only shocker of the early rounds, however, as world No. 1 Ash Barty was upset by Sara Sorribes Tormo in Round 1 and No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka was knocked out in Round 2. 

All three American women — Jennifer Brady, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske — lost in the first round. Teenager Coco Gauff was set to headline the U.S. roster before testing positive for COVID-19 days before the Games. 

The highest seed to advance deep into the tournament was No. 4 Elina Svitolina, made it to the bronze medal match and came out on top to earn the Ukraine's first Olympic tennis medal.

But it was No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic who advanced to the gold medal match, facing the unseeded Vondrousova. Bencic prevailed in three sets, becoming the first Swiss woman to win an Olympic gold medal in tennis. 

SEE MORE: Bencic wins women's singles gold in 3 sets for Switzerland

Medalists

Gold: Belinda Bencic
Silver: Marketa Vondrousova
Bronze: Elina Svitolina

Men's singles

It was finally looking like Novak Djokovic's year at the Olympics, with big names including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal opting out of the Games. 

His quest for a calendar Golden Slam looked to be in good shape through the first four rounds, as Djokovic didn't drop a single set. But Alexander Zverev put a sudden end to the twenty-time Grand Slam champion's dreams in the semifinals as Djokovic fell to the German Olympic debutant in three sets. Then, in a nearly three-hour bronze medal match, Djokovic lost out on a medal to Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta and left the singles tournament empty-handed for the third straight Games. 

Djokovic's frustration visibly boiled over: early in the second set, he flung his racket into the stands, and later on, he smashed another. He later said he was playing "under medications and abnormal pain," withdrawing from his mixed doubles bronze medal match.

Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, lost to Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals and No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to Ugo Humbert in Round 3. 

Zverev met the No. 12 seed Karen Khachanov in the gold medal match and cruised to a dominant straight-sets victory, becoming Germany's first Olympic tennis gold medalist since Steffi Graf in 1988. The only set Zverev dropped all tournament was the opening one against Djokovic. 

All American men were eliminated by the end of Round 2. Tommy Paul, the only men's singles player on the U.S. roster who qualified outright, lost in the first round, as did Tennys Sandgren. Then Frances Tiafoe and Marcos Giron both lost in the second round

SEE MORE: Zverev follows up Djokovic upset with gold medal

Medalists 

Gold: Alexander Zverev
Silver: Karen Khachanov
Bronze: Pablo Carreno Busta

Women's doubles

Switzerland's Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic, who were unseeded, started the women's doubles tournament with a big upset of the No. 2-seeded Japanese team of Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara. The Swiss team rode that momentum all the way to the gold medal match as Bencic tried to become the first player outside of Venus and Serena Williams to win both the singles and doubles title at one Olympics. 

It was not to be, however, as they met the top-seeded Czech team of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the deciding match. The Czech powerhouse team took the win in straight sets

Krejcikova is a six-time Grand Slam champion across women's and mixed doubles. She and Siniakova made the final at the Australian Open and won the French Open in the lead-up to the Games; they also won the 2018 French Open together.

Brazilian pair Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani defeated the Russian Olympic Committee's Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina for the bronze medal. Brazil's team eliminated the American duo of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jessica Pegula in the third round. 

The other U.S. team, Nicole Melichar and Alison Riske, lost in the first round. 

SEE MORE: Czech duo wins in straight sets for women's doubles gold

Medalists 

Gold: Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova
Silver: Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic
Bronze: Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani

Men's Doubles

The United States came closest to winning a medal in men's doubles, where unseeded Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sangren advanced to the bronze medal match, but lost to New Zealand's Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus. 

The other U.S. men's team, Frances Tiafoe and Rajeev Ram, lost in the second round after upsetting the No. 6 ROC team of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev in the first round.

As in women's doubles, the top-seeded team came out on top. This time, it was an all-Croatia final with Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic taking down Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig.

SEE MORE: New Zealand tops U.S. for men's doubles bronze

Medalists

Gold: Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic
Silver: Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig
Bronze: Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus

Mixed doubles

Novak Djokovic's goal of winning a medal for Serbia in Tokyo looked like it could be achieved via mixed doubles, but after the tennis superstar lost in a marathon bronze medal men's singles match, he withdrew from his mixed doubles bronze medal match. Djokovic, who played alongside Nina Stojanovic, said he was dealing with a left shoulder injury. 

Thanks to the walkover, the mixed doubles bronze went to Australia's Ash Barty and John Peers. The medal is Australia's first in Olympic tennis since 2004.

In an all-Russian Olympic Committee gold medal match, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev defeated Russian teammates Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev

The American team of Rajeev Ram and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who both won mixed doubles medals in 2016 with other partners, lost in the first round. Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock partnered for the gold in Rio while Ram took silver alongside Venus Williams, the most decorated Olympic tennis player in history. 

 

SEE MORE: Pavlyunchenkova/Rublev win all-ROC mixed doubles final

Medalists

Gold: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev
Silver: Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev
Bronze: Ash Barty and John Peers