Madison Keys started the Olympics off with a sound and convincing 6-3, 6-3 win over Montenegrin Danka Kovinic, but Saturday quickly went south for Team USA, as five of the other six Americans in action (everyone except Serena Williams) walked away in some form of defeat.
Jack Sock looked lifeless against Taro Daniel, a Japanese player ranked roughly 100 spots below him, in a 6-4, 6-4 loss. Sock told Bravo after the match that he’s recovering from “walking pneumonia” and has been doing so since Wimbledon. (That makes the USTA’s decision to depend on him playing a second taxing best-of-five match in Davis Cup even more questionable, but that’s a whole other topic, which is made even weirder if they were unaware of his illness as they claimed.)
Steve Johnson took care of an easy opponent in Darian King, but the valiant story of Brian Baker ended in a three set loss to Japan’s Yuichi Sugita and Denis Kudla lost to a lower ranked player in Slovakian Andrej Martin.
On the women’s side, Sloane Stephens was outplayed by Genie Bouchard in a tough opening round and Venus Williams lost a grueling three-hour marathon to Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens (seen above) in a final set tiebreaker. It was revealed on Sunday that Venus has a viral illness, though it appears she will remain in the doubles with Serena.
Other Saturday results:
Men: Kei Nishikori looked fantastic in 6-2, 6-4 win over Albert Ramos, a tough draw. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga labored to a three set win over Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, which came to a sad end when Jaziri cramped late in the third, with Tsonga seizing control. Marin Cilic thumped Grigor Dimitrov. One step forward, two steps back for the Bulgarian. Thanasi Kokkinakis had chances, but lost a pair of tiebreakers in his first match since October (shoulder surgery). Gael Monfils continued rolling with a late night win over Canadian Vasek Pospisil. Gilles Simon did just enough to take out Borna Coric in straights.
Women: The slow courts were of no benefit to Aga Radwanska, who went out 6-4, 7-5 to Zheng Saisai. Other seeds taken out were Roberta Vinci and Timea Bacsinszky. Carla Suarez Navarro could have been on that list, but Ana Ivanovic cooled off severely and the Spaniard came back in three sets. Ivanovic announced this was her last country-based event, and thus, her last Olympics. Ukranian Elina Svitolina came back in three against Germany’s Andrea Petkovic. Other winners: Nastia Pavyluchenkova, Lucie Safarova, Dashka Kasatkina, Heather Watson, Kiki Mladenovic.
Doubles: Medal favorites Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia were shockingly taken out in round one. Just as shocking, Novak Djokovic won a doubles match, as he and partner Nenad Zimonjic topped Cilic and partner Marin Draganja.
In action on a loaded Sunday: Serena Williams and Andy Murray began their title defenses, Djokovic in singles against Juan Martin del Potro, Rafa Nadal plays his first match in over two months, Angie Kerber, the Williams sisters in doubles, Nadal and Murray in doubles and many more.