Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerCaroline Wozniacki (DEN)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: The women’s singles is shaping up nicely at the Olympic Tennis Event as the leading contenders all demonstrated their medal credentials by advancing on Monday.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters is moving quietly through the draw after recording her second straight sets victory, this time against Carla Suarez Navarro 63 63. The Belgian, making her Olympic debut, has already announced that she will retire after the US Open, so will be desperate to take home a medal from London.
Next up for Clijsters in the third round is former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, who disappointed British fans hoping for an upset by defeating Elena Baltacha 64 76(5). The Serb is another Olympic debutant and, if she can rediscover the form that saw her win the Roland Garros title in 2008, will be in the running for a medal.
Caroline Wozniacki, another former world No. 1, won an evening thriller on Centre Court against Yanina Wickmayer 64 36 63 in 2 hours 30 minutes. The Dane hasn’t found top gear yet, but two gutsy wins show that she is ready to scrap for a medal. Her next hurdle to overcome is the in-form Daniela Hantuchova.
Petra Kvitova, like Wozniacki, is yet to show her best form, but last year’s Wimbledon champion once again dug deep to win in three sets. The Czech left-hander’s 75 26 61 victory over Peng Shuai sets up a third round clash with Flavia Pennetta.
The Williams sisters showed a sign of intent as they both cruised through in straight sets on Monday. Serena defeated Urszula Radwanska 62 63 to reach the third round, while Venus, who was still at the first round stage after yesterday’s rain delay, recorded a very impressive 63 61 triumph over Roland Garros runner-up Sara Errani.
World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka was in the same position as Venus when she opened Monday’s Centre Court schedule by defeating Irina Camelia-Begu 61 36 61 in the first round. The Belarusian dominated proceedings for most of the time, but will want to eliminate the blip she suffered in the second set for her next match against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
Serena’s next opponent, Vera Zvonareva, is also a medal contender, as proved in Beijing when she went home with the bronze. The Russian impressively knocked out last year’s Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone 63 63 on Monday. Venus will also have her work cut out in her next match against Aleksandra Wozniak.
In the men’s singles event, Roger Federer produced a vintage performance to ease past Julien Benneteau 62 62 with two breaks of serve in each set. The Frenchman played the Swiss world No. 1 in the Wimbledon third round a few weeks ago and led by two-sets-to-love before going down in five, but there were no such problems for Federer today.
Argentine duo Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Monaco were in winning form in the singles, as were American pair John Isner and Andy Roddick. Spain’s Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer also recorded singles wins, while Nikolay Davydenko found some form to beat Radek Stepanek 64 63.
On the doubles court, Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka overcame a first set scare to get their gold medal defence off to a winning start, outlasting Kei Nishikori and Go Soeda 67(5) 64 64. The Williams sisters had an easier time in their gold medal defence as they brushed aside Sorana Cirstea and Simona Halep 63 62.
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