Tennis at Tokyo Games 2020: Bencic reaches Olympic final

In the singles final, Bencic will take on the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova, who continued her giant-killing spree in the competition by taking out fourth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1. 

Belinda Bencic of Switzerland reacts after winning her semifinal match against Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.   -  REUTERS

Belinda Bencic is in line for a splendid double at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, after reaching the Gold Medal match in both singles and doubles, on Thursday. The Swiss defeated Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3 in the women’s singles semifinals and combined with Viktorija Golubic – a singles quarterfinalist at Wimbledon 2021 – to defeat the Brazilian combo of Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani 7-5, 6-3.

In the singles final, Bencic will take on the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova, who continued her giant-killing spree in the competition by taking out fourth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1.

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The doubles summit clash will also have a Swiss-Czech flavour, with Bencic and Golubic up against the fancied duo of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova – the reigning French Open and three-time Major champions – who beat Russians Elena Vesnina and Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 3-6, [10-6].

“My emotions right now... it's too high,” Bencic told the ITF website. “To have a medal, it’s the greatest thing. Even to be here as an athlete, in the Olympics, it's amazing. To have a medal, it's something I dreamed of, and I didn't think it would become reality. I'm beyond relieved and happy,” added the 24-year-old.

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Bencic is only the fifth player to reach both the singles and doubles finals since tennis’ return to the Olympics in 1988, after Venus Williams (Sydney 2000), Nicolas Massu (Athens 2004), Serena Williams and Andy Murray (London 2012). Of these only Murray didn’t complete the double, winning just the singles.

In the men’s section, World no.1 Djokovic kept up his chase for the ‘golden’ Slam with a statement win over home favourite Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. The Serb also entered the mixed doubles last four in the company of Nina Stojanovic, beating the German pairing of Laura Siegemund and Kevin Krawietz 6-1, 6-2.

“Matches are not getting easier, but my level of tennis is getting better and better,” Djokovic said. “I know that I’m kind of a player that the further the tournament goes, the better I’m feeling on the court. That’s the case here.”

In the singles semifinal, Djokovic will meet German fourth seed Alexander Zverev, who eased past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-1. Second seed Daniil Medvedev, however, faltered, losing to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 2-6, 6-7(5). The Russian had battled cramps and exhaustion in the previous round against Fabio Fognini and didn’t look like he had enough gas in the tank to put it past the Spaniard.

There was cheer for his compatriot Karen Khachanov, though, with the 12th seed overcoming France’s Ugo Humbert 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Carreno Busta.

The men’s doubles Gold Medal match will be an all-Croatian affair, with Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig taking on top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.

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