Olympics: Venus Williams Overcomes Early Challenge, Robson Impressive in Debut

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2000 Olympic gold medalist Venus Williams defeated 9th seed and 2012’s Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani in straight sets, 6-3 6-1.  While Errani has been having a breakthrough year with her QF and finalist appearances at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, along with the four titles she’s won this year, combined with her R3 appearance at Wimbledon, she was not a match for 5-time Wimbledon champion Williams.  The court surface played a role in tilting the odds in the elder Williams’ favor, although Venus deserves massive credit for navigating a dangerous early-round match against a tricky in-form opponent.  Additional credit goes to Williams for battling through the auto-immune disease that she was diagnosed with last year, which has left her vulnerable throughout the season.  In the end, Errani did not have the power to combat Venus — the quicker, lower-bouncing surface meant Errani could not execute her game as comfortably as she perhaps would have on a slightly slower surface.  In R2, Venus will play Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak.

In a heartwarming upset in front of a home crowd, Great Britain’s Laura Robson defeated the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova (ranked no. 23 in the world) in straight sets, 7-6(4) 6-4.  The highly touted 18-year old Robson endured a purple patch from Safarova, who when at her best, can provide a huge challenge with her powerful forehands and big-hitting game.  The first set TB saw both players suffer from nerves, as Robson double-faulted to level the TB at 4-4, only for Safarova to return the favor with a DF of her own to give 2 SPs to Robson.  Robson would win the TB 7-6(4).  In the second set, Robson showed impressive mental strength in holding her serve after double-faulting twice in a row and missing an overhead smash, to face 3 BPs at 3*-4.  After finally breaking the Safarova serve, Robson served the match out at 6-4 in the second set.  This is an impressive win for Robson over a veteran player in her Olympics debut (Robson was a late entry to the Olympics after Croatia’s Petra Martic withdrew with an injury).  Robson will need to summon her best form when she faces 3rd seed Maria Sharapova in R2.

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