I had high hopes for the American women in tennis at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It was a great team with future Hall of Famers Serena Williams and Venus Williams leading the singles participants with rising stars Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens threats to medal. In doubles, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Coco Vandeweghe had potential with Coco’s power mixed with Bethanie’s doubles expertise as part of Team Bucie (Bethanie and regular doubles partner, Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic). With Serena being upset by Elina Svitolina in an error-strewn 3rd round performance, along with early exits by Venus, Sloane, Coco and Bethanie, the last American woman standing is 7th seed Madison Keys, who won her second straight 3 setter, this time against 9th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-3 3-6 6-3. In the quarterfinals, Maddie will face another player spoken of as a future Major champion, 19-year old Russian Daria Kasatkina. Keys is my fave, so naturally I want her to win. But if I had to lay odds on this match, it would be razor-thin for the 21-year old American. They’ve never played an official match so I don’t know stylistically if Maddie can unlock the code to beat Dasha. If she does, Keys would advance to the semifinals and have a great shot at a gold, silver or bronze since 3 of the 4 semifinalists are guaranteed a medal.
Giving all due respect to Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig, who earned her way into the 2016 Rio Olympics quarterfinals, her 6-1 6-1 dismissal of 3rd seed Garbine Muguruza is yet another sign that the Spaniard’s slump after winning Roland Garros earlier this year is not yet over. The draw was wide open for Mugu to reach at least the semifinal round. If she had played even 85% of her capability there was nobody in her quarter that could beat her. Not only did Monica emphatically defeat Garbi, she only dropped 2 games doing so. I have compared Muguruza’s slump to that of Li Na after she won Roland Garros. However, Garbine was losing a lot of matches this year that on paper she shouldn’t have even before she won Roland Garros. I’ve looked at the post-Paris slump as a blip on the radar…maybe winning a Major was actually the blip. Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on with her, but I do know that her ability is far greater than the results she’s had, save for winning Roland Garros. If the Roland Garros championship match version of Garbine reemerges on a consistent basis, it’s possible nobody could touch her.
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11 PETRA KVITOVA (CZE) d. Ekaterina Makarova, 4-6 6-4 6-4
LAURA SIEGEMUND (GER) d. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL), 6-4 6-3
MONICA PUIG (PUR) d. 3 Garbine Muguruza (ESP), 6-1 6-1
10 JOHANNA KONTA (GBR) d. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS), 3-6 7-5 7-5
2 ANGELIQUE KERBER (GER) d. Samantha Stosur (AUS), 6-0 7-5
15 ELINA SVITOLINA (UKR) d. 1 Serena Williams (USA), 6-4 6-3
DARIA KASATKINA (RUS) d. Sara Errani (ITA), 7-5 6-2
7 MADISON KEYS (USA) d. 9 Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP), 6-3 3-6 6-3
There are 5 “K” ladies in the quarters of the Olympics with Kvitova, Kasatkina, Keys, Konta, and Kerber. Madison is playing well under pressure, so look for her to get past possibly Kerber in the semis. Your assessment of Garbi is spot on in comparing her to Li Na..they both have (had) a powerful 2-handed backhand, but their forehands could go off the rails. Congrats to Monica Puig in defeating her.
Who’s the favorite now? While I’d like to say Maddie…and Angie is still alive…beware Petra Kvitova if she makes it to the semifinals.