For me, tennis in the Olympics is a wonderful fan experience…well, except for one thing. As a life long tennis fan, over the years I develop favorites. With both the WTA and ATP being true world tours, those favorites come from around the world. That’s usually not a dilemma. However, in the Olympics, I like to be patriotic. So when a match-up between one of my favorites, Ana Ivanovic, and American Christina McHale is scheduled, I have to make a choice. Christina is a favorite too, but not like Ana. So I must admit, patriotism went out the window as I fully cheered Ana’s 6-4 7-5 victory.
Also advancing on Day 1 were Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams. Kim plans to retire after the 2012 US Open. She stayed on tour, battling through injuries, for the specific chance to compete in the 2012 London Olympics. It’s really terrific to see how much value the players put on the Olympics now. Leading up to 1988, when tennis was re-introduced as a medal event, there was talk of how much would the players care about the Olympics when the Majors like Wimbledon and the US Open were the elite tennis events. Obviously, they really care. And some say the Russian sports federation didn’t start making tennis a serious option for youngsters until it became a medal sport again. That renewed interest by Russia resulted in Russian women sweeping gold, silver and bronze (Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva) at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
There were upsets and near upsets on day 1, with Caroline Wozniacki barely advancing past Anne Keothavong of Great Britain. Playing in front of a British crowd that loudly and enthusiastically cheered on Anne, Caroline absorbed a first set loss to come back and finally take out Keothavong, 4-6 6-3 6-2. There would be no escape for Li Na nor Samantha Stosur as each fell in thrilling, but ultimately for them disappointing, three set matches. For Li Na, you can almost forgive her loss as her vanquisher, Daniela Hantuchova, is a very dangerous potential giant-killer. No offense to Carla Suarez Navarro, a very good player, Samantha Stosur should not lose to her. In fact, she had never lost to her before and just beat her easily at Wimbledon 2012. But none of that mattered on day 1 of the Olympics as Suarez Navarro took Samantha deep into the third set, completing the upset 3-6 7-5 10-8.
Singles – First Round
(4) Serena Williams (USA) d. Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 63 61
Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d. (5) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 36 75 108
(6) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 64 57 64
(8) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Anne Keothavong (GBR) 46 63 62
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. (10) Li Na (CHN) 62 36 63
(11) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Christina McHale (USA) 64 75
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) d. (12) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 76(4) 62
(13) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) 76(3) 64
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 62 46 62
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 63 36 64
Peng Shuai (CHN) d. Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 63 67(3) 75
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 62 46 75
Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. Roberta Vinci (ITA) 61 64
Urszula Radwanska (POL) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 64 63
Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. Tamira Paszek (AUT) 76(4) 64
Elena Baltacha (GBR) d. Agnes Szavay (HUN) 63 63