Olympic tennis produces raft of upsets

China’s Li Na produced a shock defeat of Svetlana Kuznetsova as the Olympic tennis tournament produced a catalogue of upsets including the early exits of Andy Murray and David Ferrer on Monday.

Li, ranked 42nd, came from three games down in the first set to beat third seed Kuznetsova 7-6, 6-3 in front of a raucous Centre Court crowd.

“I think it was home-court advantage for me,” said Li.

Fellow Chinese Zheng Jie relished home support as she eliminated Hungarian 11th seed Agnes Szavay 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in a marathon two hours and 50 minutes, while Peng Shuai beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.

“I have so many supporters here that make me so motivated and they’ve given me a lot of mental support, particularly in today’s match, a very close match,” said Zheng. “So it’s very helpful for me at important points.”

In the men’s singles, Murray and Ferrer also fell victim to the Olympic curse, while the big three—Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic—progressed safely.

Federer breezed past powerful Russian Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-2 into round two, joining Nadal who was taken the distance by 71st-ranked Italian Potito Starace.

“My goal is to try to get the number-one ranking back,” said Federer, who yields the top spot to Nadal on August 18. “I need to play well again.
I need to win the big matches. That’s what I’m looking at at the moment.”

Djokovic later went through 6-4, 6-4 against America’s Robby Ginepri in a bumper schedule of 65 matches after thunderstorms wiped out most of day one.

The Williams sisters led a clutch of women’s seeds into the next round, including Russians Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva and Alize Cornet of France, who progressed along with Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova.

However, Serena Williams was not happy about having to complete her 6-3, 6-1 win against Olga Govortsova on Monday after the overnight delay. “I wanted to go to the market today but we have to play so many matches,” she said. “It’s rough.”

Taiwan’s 74th-ranked Lu Yen-Hsun was the men’s giantkiller with his 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 win over an out-of-sorts Murray.

“I spoke to my manager and my coach and I decided to try my best because anything can happen,” said Lu. “I tried and fought from the first point to the end and it happened.”

Spanish fifth seed David Ferrer fell to Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic in another surprise result.

The Olympics has been a champions’ graveyard for the men with no top-five gold-medallist in modern times and a list of winners including Marc Rosset and Nicolas Massu.

Massu, ranked 125, stayed in the hunt for a second singles gold but fell at the first hurdle in his doubles defence. Massu and partner Fernando Gonzalez lost 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to Russia’s Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny.

Tenth seed Gilles Simon qualified alongside French teammates Gael Monfils, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Michael Llodra, who beat 16th-seeded Radek Stepanek.

Stanislas Wawrinka, Nicolas Keifer and Mikhail Youzhny were the other seeds through along with Argentina’s former top-five player David Nalbandian.

A tearful Sania Mirza retired from the women’s singles with a painful right wrist just months after surgery. “It’s unfortunate timing. It’s very bad but there’s nothing I can do,” she said.

Mirza was just the latest withdrawal in the women’s competition after top seed Ana Ivanovic pulled out on Sunday with a painful thumb and 1996 champion Lindsay Davenport ditched the singles with a knee problem.

Newly crowned number one Jelena Jankovic is carrying a calf injury and Russian star Maria Sharapova, Amelie Mauresmo and Tatiana Golovin pulled out before the Games.

But International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci Bitti dismissed fears players were not serious about the Olympics, which are followed by the US Open on August 25.—Sapa-AFP

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