It was an eventful Day 2 at Rio 2016 with some of tennis' biggest stars taking the court. While Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal progressed in the singles with easy wins, the top-ranked Novak Djokovic was not as lucky, losing out to a resurgent Juan Martin del Potro.
Djokovic’s compatriot Viktor Troicki lost in straight sets to Murray, who won 6-3, 6-2, while Nadal took his own straight sets win over Del Potro’s compatriot Federico Delbonis.
Del Potro ended Djokovic’s bronze medal hopes at London 2012, and today ended his hopes at any medal whatsoever with the first round ouster. Many had expected Djokovic to go through easily, with most pipping him as the gold medal hope given his current form.
This year, the Serb won his maiden French Open, a title that had eluded him since his debut. Based on that and his success on the ATP tour, it would not have been unreasonable to believe he could end his Olympic drought. However, the top-ranked player struggled at Wimbledon, where he was knocked out in the third round by the big-serving American Sam Querrey.
Despite this, Djokovic came back to win the title at the Toronto Masters – or the Rogers Cup, a tournament which Murray, Federer and Nadal all chose to sit out ahead of the Olympics.
It appears that win did not help a visibly devastated Djokovic build momentum.
Doubles takes a big hit
After losing out in the women’s singles to Kirsten Flipkens, Venus Williams lost out in the doubles with sister Serena. The two, who have never lost an Olympic final together, crashed out to the Czech pair of Lucie Safarova and Barbara Strycova, losing tamely – 6-3, 6-4.
The Williams sisters won the title at the Olympics in 2000, 2008 and 2012, but today were not only stunned but thoroughly outclassed by the Czech pair.
Serena Williams, the defending champion and biggest prospect for gold yet again, progressed easily in the singles, beating Australian Daria Gavrilova 6-4 6-2 to set up a meeting with Alize Cornet of France.
Elsewhere, men’s doubles medal prospects Andy and Jamie Murray also lost, tumbling to Andre Sa and Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil. Defending Olympic champions Bob and Mike Bryan have chosen to sit out the Olympic Games this time around, with many considering the Davis Cup winning Murray brothers combine strong contenders for gold.
Murray was more succesful in the singles, beating his first round opponent Viktor Troicki, 6-3 6-2 to set up a clash against Argentine Juan Monaco in Round 2. Rafael Nadal beat his own Argentine opponent, Federico Delbonis in straight sets – he will now play Italian Andreas Seppi.
What next for India?
With Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna out of the men’s doubles with a loss to Marcin Matkowski and Lukasz Kubot of Poland, and Sania Mirza and partner Prarthana Thombare also exiting, it is up to the mixed doubles combine of Mirza and Bopanna to keep India’s medal hopes alive in the tennis.
The draws for the mixed doubles will be revealed on Tuesday, the 9th of August, with the mixed doubles to commence from the 10th. The two will fight for India’s last remaining chance at a tennis medal here at Rio 2016.