The women’s game continues to be a week-in, week-out enigma with new faces, new winners every week. And the Olympics in Tokyo have been no different. Sixty-four women began and after five rounds, the two playing for the gold are the unlikely combination of Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova.
The 24-year-old Bencic had lost her last six sets coming into the Tokyo Olympics, but outlasted the field and today came from a break down in the third to deny the powerful Elena Rybakina 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3 to reach her third final of the season.
Vondrousova made her big splash back at the 2019 French Open going all the way to the final, but the lanky lefty succumbed to a wrist injury which halted her progress. The Czech was just 14-12 on the season having lost 4 of her last 5 as she began in Tokyo.
But the big win over Naomi Osaka has put her back on track and today she dismantled another Top 5 seed in Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1 to become the first Czech woman to make the singles gold medal match at the Olympics.
The 22-year-old Vondrousova needed to use a protect ranking (of #16) just to get on to a deep Czech team and qualify.
“I was thinking that two or three matches would have been great, and then I beat Naomi so then I thought that I was playing well and that maybe I could even do better,” Vondrousova said. “I’m now just happy to be in the final. It’s an amazing feeling.
“I can’t believe it. Maybe it’ll sink in later. This is amazing, even if it’s silver or gold, it’s amazing and I’m just very proud.”
As the only Top 10 player left, hopes were high for Svitolina to finally make a breakthrough on the big stage. She’ll still have a chance to medal in the bronze match Saturday against Rybakina.
“It’s an amazing feeling to represent my country in the bronze medal match but I’m really disappointed today,” Svitolina said after the 64-minute loss. “I tried my best but I expected to go further.
“Unfortunately there are other players who are playing well. It’s extremely tough and it didn’t happen today.
“Marketa played really well, a very solid performance and I couldn’t find my best tennis today and everything came together for her.”
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