Tennis at Tokyo 2020: Svitolina set for semifinal; Medvedev survives cramps to advance

Second-seed Daniil Medvedev defeated Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to set up a last-eight meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain at the Tokyo Olympics.

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine serves during the women's singles quarterfinal match against Camila Giorgi of Italy on Wednesday.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Elina Svitolina will go up against Marketa Vondrousova and Belinda Bencic will take on Elena Rybakina in the women’s singles semifinals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Svitolina, the World no.6, is the highest-ranked player remaining in the draw, and she stayed true to her high billing, dismissing Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday.

“I know that for Ukraine, [the Olympics] is a really big thing,” Svitolina told The Olympic Channel, after her victory. “I value the Olympics as a Grand Slam, and I tried to prepare to bring my best tennis. Here I am in the semifinal, and I can get a chance to get a medal. It’s very special for me.”

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Svitolina will next face Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who moved past Paula Badosa of Spain. Under the sweltering heat of Tokyo, Badosa retired midway through the match, with Vondrousova having won the first set 6-3.

Vondrousova, 2019 Roland Garros finalist, had earlier taken out World no.2 and the face of the Games Naomi Osaka.

No.9 seed Bencic booked a spot in the semifinals, courtesy a tough 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 win over French Open 2021 runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

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The Russian had dropped a mere seven games in her first three matches in Tokyo but that didn’t stop the Swiss from dishing out a bagel in the first set. Bencic lost the second but found the tennis in the third to complete the victory in two-hours and 13 minutes.

Rybakina was clinical in her win over Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, winning 7-5, 6-1. “My serve is a weapon,” said Rybakina about a match where she faced a solitary break point. “I have a lot of ups and downs, but today I served really well. Overall, I played well – I didn’t make as many mistakes as I’ve had before. I was really focused.”

Heat wave concerns

In the men’s section, Stefanos Tsitsipas was the biggest player to fall, struggling with a leg injury throughout the third set against Frenchman Ugo Humbert. He eventually lost 6-2, 6-7(4), 2-6.

Daniil Medvedev suffered too, battling cramps and exhaustion under the intense heat, but eventually pulled through to defeat Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

But Novak Djokovic, home favourite Kei Nishikori and Alexander Zverev made safe passages into the quarterfinals.

Elsewhere, Andy Murray's hopes of a fourth Olympic medal ended after Croats Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig came back from a set and a break down to beat the three-time Major winner and his partner Joe Salisbury 4-6, 7-6(2), [10-7].

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