Two weeks after Ash Barty won her maiden Wimbledon title, the best women in the world of tennis head to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics tennis tournament. The Grand Slams still headline the tennis calendar but a gold medal is still a coveted prize.
It was the prize of Monica Puig in Rio five years ago in what was the greatest upset in Olympic tennis history. Unfortunately she is injured and will not be in Tokyo so we are guaranteed the gold medal going around the neck of someone else.
2016 – Monica Puig
2012 – Serena Williams
2008 – Elena Dementieva
2004 – Justine Henin-Hardenne
2000 – Venus Williams
1996 – Lindsay Davenport
1992 – Jennifer Capriati
1988 – Steffi Graf
This is a straight knockout tournament right from the start. There was a limit to the number of players a country could send so the field is different to the ones we might see in a Grand Slam. All matches are the best of three sets right up until and including the final. Tie-breaks are in operation in all sets including the deciding one which is a slight change to previous years when the decider has had to be won by two clear games.
Ash Barty justified her number one seeding to win the Wimbledon title earlier in the month and she will be looking to complete the double over the course of this week when she sets about winning the gold medal from the top quarter. There are 16 seeds in the draw which means that there are three others in this quarter of it. They are Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Belinda Bencic and the French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who along with Barty is the form player on the tour at the minute.
There are a lot of good unseeded players in the draw this week with only 16 seeds on show. In this section of the draw they include Dayana Yastremska while the home player Misaki Doi will be looking to go well. Jessica Pegula and Anastasija Sevastova are both in with a chance of a big week and then there are seasoned players like Sara Errani. There is also British interest in this quarter as Heather Watson is in it.
The Wimbledon semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka is the leading seed in the second quarter as the Belarussian looks to claim the biggest title of her career. If that is to happen then she is going to have to come out of a quarter which includes Elena Rybakina, Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza as the other seeds in a section which is full of power hitters who will all be hoping to win the gold medal for the first time themselves.
Once again there are some big names who don’t have a seeded number next to their name in this quarter. Donna Vekic is probably the best known of them and if she finds her best form she can cause a surprise or two. Qiang Wang would be a popular Asian winner of the title not far from her homeland while the likes of Sam Stosur and Caroline Garcia will hope they have one big last hurrah left in them here.
OPEN AN ACCOUNT WITH 888SPORT AND BET £10 TO GET £30 IN FREE BETS PLUS A £10 CASINO BONUS! PERFECT OFFER TO USE ON THE OLYMPICS! CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO JOIN. USE CODE 30F. NEW ACCOUNTS ONLY. 18+ T&Cs apply (See image for significant terms). Gamble Aware.
The recently married Elina Svitolina is the highest seed in the third quarter of the draw. Since losing at Wimbledon she has been away getting married and while a happy life away from the court might free her up to deliver the goods here, a lack of practice recently might not. She is in a quarter which contains the Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova. The other two seeds in it are the big hitting Jennifer Brady and the Greek star Maria Sakkari.
Some great names are unseeded in this part of the draw and they include the Wimbledon quarter finalist Ons Jabeur, Carla Suarez Navarro for whom there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house if the gold medal is going around her neck after her health issues. Jelena Ostapenko won the WTA title in Eastbourne last month and could be a threat here while Camila Giorgi, Anett Kontaveit and Ajla Tomljanovic have all played some decent tennis recently.
The poster girl of the Olympic Games, Naomi Osaka, heads up the bottom quarter of the draw. You wonder if there is going to be too much pressure on her to deliver the gold medal for Japan but having been buoyed by what must have been an incredible experience to light the torch at the Opening Ceremony, it would be foolish to write her off. The former French Open champion Iga Swiatek is the other big seed in the quarter while Elise Mertens and Kiki Bertens complete the seeds.
There are plenty of dangers in this section of the draw as well. They include Paula Badosa who could run very well in these conditions, Kiki Mladenovic who is no stranger to a big stage in doubles combat, former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova, Alison Riske and Viktoria Golubic who was a recent quarter finalist at Wimbledon. Nadia Podoroska is another who could be a danger in the slower conditions.
The way the draw has landed two Czech women stand out an absolute mile at the 20/1 mark. The first of those is the French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova who is on a crazy run of 20 wins in her last 21 matches, including another title in Prague recently where she never lost a single set. Admittedly the field wasn’t the strongest you’ll ever find there but to win 10 straight sets against any opposition takes some doing. There is talk that these courts are playing slow which should nullify the threat of Barty should they meet in the quarter final. Her loss to the Australian at Wimbledon is the only one she has suffered in this run and Barty held all the aces conditions wise there. You really can’t replace winning confidence and nobody has more of that than Krejcikova who looks a big price at 20/1.
Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova is the same price and although she is in the same half as Naomi Osaka, I’m prepared to believe that the pressure the Japanese star is under heading into this tournament might catch up with her which could open it up to Pliskova. Her serve might be negated slightly if the courts are slow but the humidity will be there to get it to zip through and she has the game to do some damage from there. She was so close to winning the Wimbledon title and although she lost in the end she should have taken a lot of confidence from that and a player of her stature and standing is more than good enough to hold her nerve to land a medal here.
Back B.Krejcikova to win Gold Medal (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-3)
Back K.Pliskova to win Gold Medal (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-3)
Back them here: