By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Day two of the 2016 Rio Olympics saw a pair of shocking tennis upsets as the world’s number one ranked player, Novak Djokovic, and the three-time defending Olympic doubles champions, Venus and Serena Williams, were knocked out of the Games. Djokovic was stunned by the 145th ranked player in the world, while the Williams sisters lost for the first time ever at the Olympics to a duo that had never won a match together.
On Sunday, August 7th, Djokovic, and little-known Argentine player, Juan Martin Del Potro, were in tears, for different reasons, following their emotional match, which saw the world’s most dominant player unable to win a set.
Throughout the match, the bigger and stronger Del Potro consistently pounded Djokovic with a powerful forehand that even the best player in the world could not match. After two tiebreakers, Djokovic, who had not lost in the first round of a major tournament since 2006, was knocked out of the Olympics, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2).
Having already won all four Grand Slam singles titles this year, heading into the Olympics, Djokovic was aiming to be the first men’s tennis player in history to win an Olympic gold medal along with the four biggest tennis titles in the same year.
Del Potro had won a Grand Slam title in 2009, but he is coming off of three wrist surgeries that have sidelined him for almost the last two years. Making his victory on Sunday even more remarkable, earlier in the day Del Potro had to be rescued by the Argentine handball team after getting trapped in an elevator at the Olympic Village for over forty minutes.
In Sunday’s other shocking upset, Venus and Serena Williams lost 6-3, 6-4, to the Czech team of Barbora Strycova and Lucie Safarova. The Williams sisters entered the 2016 Olympics with an undefeated 15-0 Olympic record, winning gold in the 2000, 2008, and 2012 Games.
By contrast, their opponents had never won a match together, with the duo only paired together when Strycova stepped in as a last-minute replacement for Safarova’s previous partner who pulled out of the Olympics due to Zika concerns.
Following the match, US women’s Olympic tennis coach Mary Joe Fernandez told reporters that Venus Williams, who also lost in the singles tournament on Saturday, had been sick with cramping, dehydration and an upset stomach since the start of the tournament.