With the release of the final entry list for the Tokyo Olympics, the air has finally been cleared on the tennis field. Fans can now start preparing for some high-octane action over the next couple of weeks, with many big names in the fray.
The women's field at this year's tournament is set to be extremely competitive, with as many as seven Grand Slam champions making an appearance. Petra Kvitova, the only former medal winner, has been seeded 10th in a list that also includes the likes of Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka.
Seeding lists, however, don't account for much on the WTA tour. The depth of the women's game came to the fore at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where Monica Puig staged one of the most improbable gold medal runs in the history of the sport.
This year, there are plenty of unseeded women in the draw who will look to follow suit.
With singles matches set to begin on Saturday, here is a look at some of the biggest unseeded threats in the women's draw.
5. Paula Badosa (Spain)
One of the breakout players of the 2021 season, Paula Badosa will make her Olympics debut in Tokyo. The Spaniard first caught everyone's attention during the clay swing, taking wins over the likes of Ashleigh Barty and Belinda Bencic in the lead-up to Roland Garros. Badosa then made a strong run in Paris too, going as far as the quarterfinals.
But just when everyone was ready to dismiss her as a claycourt specialist, the 23-year-old produced another statement run - this time reaching the second week at Wimbledon.
Badosa's strong serve and power-packed baseline game have proven effective on all surfaces. Add to that her fiercely competitiveness, and you have a formidable opponent.
4. Veronika Kudermetova (Russia)
Another youngster who has made a mark during the 2021 season is Russia's Veronika Kudermetova. The 24-year-old made a strong start to the year with a run to the finals in Abu Dhabi, only losing to a red-hot Aryna Sabalenka.
Kudermetiva followed that up with her first WTA title in Charleston and other big wins over the likes of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elise Mertens. And although the results seem to have dried up in the lead-up to the Olympics, the big-serving Russian still has the game to trouble any opponent.
Hardcourts have been a happy hunting ground for Kudermetova; she reached her first two tour finals on the surface. The 24-year-old will certainly be fancying her chances of staging an upset or two in Tokyo as well.
3. Magda Linette (Poland)
If there is a player on tour who knows how to do well in Asia, it is Poland's Magda Linette. After slugging it out on the ITF tour and in lower-rung tournaments early in her career, the Poznan native decided to bring some changes to her game.
Linette shifted her training base to Guangzhou at the start of 2014. She also partnered with Brit coach Mark Gellard to work on the mental aspects of her game. The results have followed; the Pole has since reached four WTA finals, with three of them coming in Asia (including both her title runs). Linette has also been a regular presence in the top 50 over the last couple of years.
A strong tactical player, Linette often carries her own notes onto the court. Her solid groundstrokes, sublime movement and high tennis IQ have troubled the likes of Elina Svitolina and Ashleigh Barty this year.
Needless to say, the Pole will enter the Olympics feeling good about her game.
The last time she represented Poland, Linette was a last-minute entrant and suffered a first-round exit. But a lot has changed since. Given the right kind of draw, the Pole can pull off a few surprises in Tokyo.
2. Camila Giorgi (Italy)
At 29, Camila Giorgi is one of the older first-time Olympians in tennis. However, she has struck form just in the nick of time.
One of the most aggressive players on tour, the Italian has staged several big runs at WTA events and Grand Slams in the past. And while her powerful groundstrokes have troubled even the best, it is her gung-ho approach to tennis that warrants the most attention.
Giorgi's power hitting was on display once again in Eastbourne this year, where she reached the last four with wins over Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova. If she can play her best tennis in Tokyo, the 29-year-old could well be on her way to a dream debut.
1. Ons Jabeur (Tunisia)
Ranked 18th on the entry list, Ons Jabeur missed out on scoring a seed by a whisker. But the Tunisian trailblazer has been in top form this season, and would be the one name that all top players would want to avoid early.
Jabeur's incredible 33-12 win-loss for the season includes a title run at Birmingham, a WTA 250 final in Charleston and a maiden quarterfinal at Wimbledon. She found a rich vein of form at SW19, scoring three consecutive wins over Major winners Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Iga Swiatek.
With one of the most well-rounded games on tour coupled with a big serve, Jabeur might be incredibly hard to beat in Tokyo.
Also Checkout: Tokyo Olympics 2021 Schedule