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Top ranked women’s tennis player and defending Olympic champion Serena Williams was added to the list of upsets at the Rio Olympics this week after losing to unheralded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the third round of the tournament. With the tennis betting odds favorite on the women’s side eliminated, the Olympic Gold is up for grabs.
The loss by Williams comes a day after she and her sister, Venus, were eliminated from the doubles competition. Prior to the loss, The Williams sisters had been undefeated in Olympic doubles play, dating back to their first Olympics in 2000.
Against Svitolina, Williams was her own worst enemy, shanking all sorts of shots and committing 37 unforced errors and 17 forced errors. Things were so bad for the top ranked female player, she double faulted five times.
By the end of the match, Svitolina won 63 points, but only nine of them were from clean winners, the others were from Williams’ errors.
Williams, who won the Gold medal in singles and doubles at the London Olympics, goes home empty handed this time. Svitolina, who is ranked 22nd in the world, had never played in an Olympics before, and has been to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam only once in her career.
However, the Ukrainian, who had lost her previous four matches against Williams, final defeated the 22-time Grand Slam winner.
Even though a lot of attention will be paid to the fact that Williams committed a lot of errors, Svitolina did what she had to do to defeat one of the most dominant female tennis player of all time. The Ukrainian was fearless, and used her groundstrokes to keep Williams where she wanted her.
Svitolina also did a great job of keeping her emotions in check after making big plays during the match, which was instrumental to her success.
Williams has been down in a few matches over the years, and has made a habit of finding a way to overcome her bad play and turn things around during a match. Svitolina’s emotional restraint helped her in the sense that she didn’t provide Williams with any added motivation by celebrating too much after winning points.
While the loss to Svitolina might have been surprising to some fans and even Williams herself, it is something that was eventually going to happen given how much Williams has played with fire recently.
During the Australian and French Opens, Williams found herself behind a few of her opponents because of unforced errors and other mental mistakes, but she was able to advance to the finals. However, it was obvious she wasn’t as confident in her game as she was in 2015, when she dominated her opponents on the way to winning three out of four Grand Slams.
When she played in the finals, Williams lost to opponents that she normally wouldn’t have had problems with because they were able to make her pay for her mistakes, which was what Svitolina did to her this week.
With Williams out of the picture, Svitolina has to be considered one of the favorites to win the Olympics since she just defeated the toughest player in the tournament. However, if she lets the win get to her head, she might be the next player heading home.