The draw for the Olympic Women’s Singles Tennis event was held today and it appears to have created some intriguing matchups. Unlike the men’s game, which has seen an exclusive club dominate the sport over the last few years, the women’s game has seen a revolving door of players entering and exiting the top ten.
Looking at the results from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the women’s tennis landscape has changed dramatically since over the past four years. A trio of Russians famously medalled in Beijing, with Elena Dementieva winning gold, Dinara Safina winning silver and Vera Zvonareva winning bronze. Dementieva retired in 2010 and Safina finished the 2011 WTA season ranked 129th in the world. Zvonareva has managed to stay fairly consistent since 2008, but has fallen out of the top ten in 2012. She potentially faces defending Wimbledon champion Serena Williams in the third round.
The William sisters will both be playing in London this year and are faced with two of the most intriguing first round matches of the tournament. Serena is up against world no. 20 Jelena Jankovic, who has an impressive 4-4 match record against the American and was the victor the last time the two played in 2010. Though Serena will still be a heavy favorite, Jankovic certainly poses a threat for an early upset. Her sister Venus will play world no. 9 Sara Errani of Italy in the first round. There is no doubt that Venus has struggled of late, openly admitting to suffering from Sjögren’s syndrome which carries symptoms of fatigue. However, she will be coming in with a 1-0 head-to-head advantage over Errani who was defeated by the American in the 2011 Australian Open.
Venus Williams has already had Olympic success with a gold medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney, while Serena has yet to earn an Olympic singles medal.
Looking forward to the third round, potential matchups include former French Open winner Li Na against former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane has struggled recently, losing in the first round of her last two tournaments, which included Wimbledon. If she cannot regain form, Li Na could face Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova looks primed to meet Germany’s Sabine Lisicki in the third round as well. Lisicki defeated the Russian just a few weeks ago at Wimbledon in straight sets. If she can repeat her results at the Olympics, the German may have an outside chance at a medal.
World no. 1 Victoria Azarenka is in prime position to medal in London as she appears to have one of the best draws through to the semifinals, where she could meet Serena Williams. Williams however, has an 8-1 advantage over Azarenka and considering her dominance on grass, few would doubt her chances in an Olympic semifinal. If matches stay true to ranking, Kvitova and Radwanska will have to battle it out for a spot in the semifinals at the bottom half of the draw where they could play Sharapova, Lisicki or Stosur.
If this year’s Wimbledon was any indication of how the Olympics will go on the women’s side, expect it to be an exciting affair with its fair share of unpredictable upsets. Despite all the ranking fluctuations in the women’s game over the past few years, most of 2012’s current top ten has remained relatively consistent and given the draw it seems likely the medalists will come from this group.
View the complete draw here.