Before I get to the actual play, some friends have asked how I watched full matches live and on-demand replays when they couldn’t find them on television. Download the NBC Sports App. The Olympic section will guide you to whatever sport you would like. So long as your internet service provider is on board (most major ones are), you can watch live action or replays in their entirety. I watched the Madison Keys v Danka Kovinic match on-demand as a replay. And it’s a good thing I did because that was the only singles match an American won on day one of women’s singles at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Maddie powered her way through Danka, 6-3 6-3. Facing a break point on serve at 2-3 30-40 down in the first set, Keys could have dug herself an early hole, but an ace and 2 more powerful serves kept things even at 3-3. She then broke Kovinic at love in the next game. From there, Maddie never looked back.
As the 7th seed, Madison Keys was the highest seed to actually survive day one. #4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska lost to Zheng Saisai. #6 seed Roberta Vinci fell to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. #12 seed Timea Bacsinszky was dismissed by Zhang Shuai. You might remember her as the Chinese player who had never won a singles match at a Major in a billion tries (ok, maybe not that many) but then went on a nice run of wins at the Australian Open this year. Although she wasn’t seeded, seeing American Sloane Stephens go down on day one was a bit of a bummer, although I do take some solace in the fact that it was Eugenie Bouchard who ousted her. I like Genie, so that stings a little less. The match of the day was Kirsten Flipkens upsetting #5 seed Venus Williams, 4-6 6-3 7-6 (5). The match had great hitting, some nice shotmaking and dramatic swings of momentum. Fittingly, it was decided in a tiebreak 7-5 before a very raucous crowd (at times, a bit overly raucous…particularly when Venus was trying to serve). Venus is the 2000 Olympics women’s gold medalist and has 3 gold medals in women’s doubles. It would have been exciting to see the 36-year old Williams make a deep run here, but it was not meant to be. She still has greatness in her, as evidenced by continuing to be a top 10 ranked player, but she also has more days here and there when she is isn’t in top form. This match was so tight that a point swing at a few critical moments would have produced a different outcome. But all credit to Flipkens. She won the points she had to when she needed.
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ZHENG SAISAI (CHN) d. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), 6-4 7-5
KIRSTEN FLIPKENS (BEL) d. 5 Venus Williams (USA), 4-6 6-3 7-6 (5)
ZHANG SHUAI (CHN) d. 12 Timea Bacsinszky (SUI), 6-7 (4) 6-4 7-6 (7)
EUGENIE BOUCHARD (CAN) d. Sloane Stephens (USA), 6-3 6-3
7 MADISON KEYS (USA) d. Danka Kovinic (MNE), 6-3 6-3