Rio Olympics 2016, Tennis: Five women’s doubles teams who can win medals

Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic

The countdown has begun to the biggest sports show on the earth as the Rio Olympics 2016 is now less than two weeks away. The tennis event is scheduled from August 6-14 that will see some of the world’s biggest stars vying for medals in the five categories.

Who are the best bets for the medals? Here we look at five teams in the women’s doubles event, three of whom, barring upsets, can find themselves on the podium.

#1 Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic (France)

Garcia rank: 3, Mladenovic rank: 4

The French girls Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic have been a revelation this year who simply blazed through the clay season. After two final losses on hardcourts, they came alive on clay where they captured titles at Charleston, Stuttgart and Madrid to top it all with the French Open title. It made them the first home team to triumph in this category at Roland Garros since 1970.

Aged 23 and 22 respectively, Garcia and Mladenovic are a young pair oozing with zeal and exuberance. Armed with attacking games and a good control at the net, they make a potent team who can wreak havoc on their opponents. What is remarkable about this young team is how well they mastered the numero uno duo of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis in the last few months, beating them twice.

That further vindicates their fearlessness on the court and they can certainly make the best use of this attitude to propel themselves on the podium at Rio.

#2 Serena Williams and Venus Williams (USA)

Serena Williams and Venus Williams

Serena rank: 34, Venus rank: 34

Rankings hardly matter for these two legends, nor can rustiness make any difference. Venus and Serena Williams showed that at the recently-concluded Wimbledon Championships. The sisters, who have completed a Career Slam in women’s doubles, had paired up at the Italian Open for the first time since 2014.

Wimbledon was just their third tournament this year but they proved they are still the same indomitable force they once were. Serena’s devastating serve makes it all the more difficult for any team who faces them.

With their 14th Major title in tow, they are ready to dominate the doubles world yet again. And when it comes to the Olympics, there’s simply no better team to think of than this American duo.

Having won the women’s doubles gold in three of the last four Olympics, they are now chasing their fourth yellow metal on a fourth different continent. Age is just a number for the 34-year-old Serena and her 36-year-old elder sister Venus and it won’t be a surprise if they continue their success at the mega quadrennial Games once again.

#3 Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova (Russia)

Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova

Vesnina rank: 8, Makarova rank: 17

Russia might be embroiled in a murky doping scandal that has resulted in its athletics team being barred from the Olympics. But the country can certainly dream of making amends in other sports, if they are ultimately not stripped off that chance.

The Russian duo of Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova became a major force on the Tour after the 2012 London Olympics. 2013 was the first time they tasted glory in women’s doubles at the Majors when they lifted the French Open trophy. And they subsequently went on to add the 2014 US Open title.

With no Olympic medal in their kitty, there’s no doubt that the soon-to-be 30 Vesnina and the 28-year-old Makarova would be hungry get one this time. And they have been getting some valuable momentum at the right time.

In their last five tournaments, they have not lost before the quarter-finals which include a runner-up finish at the French Open and a quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon. It is suffice to say that this right hand-left hand combination will settle for nothing less than a medal.

#4 Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova (Czech Republic)

Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova

Hradecka rank: 9, Hlavackova rank: 10

What it feels like to win a medal at the Olympics, the Czech pair of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova certainly knows. The two scooped up the silver medal at London four years ago after succumbing to the formidable Williams sisters 4-6, 4-6 in the summit clash.

That year was one of the best seasons of this partnership who went on to finish 2012 with five finals that included two Grand Slams as well. Four years on, these two-time Grand Slam champions began the 2016 season with a bang where they reached the final of the Australian Open in January. But since then, consistency has been missing from this pair even though they did win titles on clay and grass.

They can still be one of the best bets for a medal. Having known each other since kids on the Tour, they know how to bring out the best from each other. Additionally, they have an US Open title on their resume that was won on a surface that closely resembles the fast hardcourts to be used at Rio. And that can be a big boost to their confidence.

#5 Chan Yung-jan and Chan Hao-ching (Chinese Taipei)

Chan Yung-jan and Chan Hao-ching

Yung-jan rank: 6, Hao-ching rank: 6

Another pair of sisters who can make an impact at the Rio Games is Chinese Taipei’s Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan. Last year was one of the best seasons of their career where they won three titles and reached four more finals one of which was the Australian Open.

The Chans were the last team to inflict a defeat on the numero uno pair of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis before they went on build a 41-match winning streak. With their fighting spirit and variety, the 26-year-old Yung-jan and her 22-year-old younger sister Hao-ching can be a dangerous duo.

After two titles on the hardcourts of Kaohsiung and Doha in February, they lost steam a bit but managed to regroup themselves on the grasscourts of Eastbourne where they made it to the summit clash. And that just might brighten their chances as they embark on their Olympic journey.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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