Who has the edge in the gold and bronze medal matches?

Just as we have viewed for a good portion of the 2021 time, the central storyline at Tokyo 2020 has been the unpredictable area down the stretch. 

Only just one Leading 5 player is vying for a medal at this year’s Olympic Video games. But that absolutely is no slight to the closing four who will be competing Saturday. 

In the gold medal match, No.9 Belinda Bencic requires on Marketa Vondrousova. Bencic has showed how mentally potent she is in the course of clutch times, whilst Vondrousova has dominated most of the week in Tokyo. Rated No. 42, she has still to fall a established considering the fact that her very first match. 

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“I was pondering that [to win] two or 3 matches would have been good, and then I defeat Naomi [Osaka] so then I believed that I was actively playing well and that possibly I could even do greater,” Vondrousova informed the ITF right after her previous match. “I am now just happy to be in the ultimate. It’s an remarkable emotion.”

Elina Svitolina and Elena Rybakina will sq. off for the bronze medal in a awesome contrast of enjoying variations. 

How will these matches participate in out? We break it down.

Gold medal: No.9 Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (Czech Republic) 

Benefit, Bencic

For Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, Saturday’s Olympic last represents a possibility at historical past, an opportunity to do a little something her own idols and mentors — Roger Federer and Martina Hingis — have hardly ever finished: acquire an Olympic singles gold medal.

The Planet No.12 may not have been a pre-tournament preferred for gold, but she has now produced the final of two of her previous four occasions. She did so on the grass in Berlin very last month. As she prepares to consider on Marketa Vondrousova’s crafty, lefty sport, Bencic comes at Saturday’s gold medal match battle-hardened. Bencic has received a few straight deciding sets, in excess of Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Rybakina in the semifinals. 

It would be an extraordinary accomplishment for the former junior No.1. A lot has been hoped for and expected ever given that the whispers unfold in the tennis earth about a 7-calendar year-aged Swiss expertise, who was so superior that Hingis’ mom, Melanie Molitor, agreed to coach her. Bencic was the No.1 Junior at 16 several years old, the youngest US Open quarterfinalist because Hingis at 17, and the very first teenager to debut in the Major 10 in seven a long time when she was just 18. Ahead of the pandemic upended the tennis calendar final 12 months, Bencic had capped off a spectacular comeback from damage to reach a profession-large No.4 and qualify for her first Shiseido WTA Closing Shenzhen.

No Swiss woman has ever won Olympic gold in tennis. Marc Rosset is the lone Swiss male to earn the singles event, at Barcelona 1996. 

Federer experienced to settle for silver in singles at London 2012, where he shed to Andy Murray in the gold medal match. 4 several years earlier in Beijing, Federer captured doubles gold with Stan Wawrinka. Hingis captured silver with Timea Bacsinszky in doubles 5 decades ago in Rio. 

Now will come Bencic, a prodigy in her have proper who was shepherded by way of the pro tour by Federer and Hingis and now has a opportunity to sweep the singles and doubles functions in her Olympic debut, owning also made the doubles last together with Viktorija Golubic. The past player to sweep at an Olympics was Serena Williams at London 2012. — Courtney Nguyen 

Gain, Vondrousova

Of course, Marketa Vondrousova is rated only No.42 in the planet, but she has been totally deadly in the clutch moments. Break details are wherever you make your funds in specialist tennis, and the Czech Republic participant has piled up a significant stash in Tokyo.

In the semifinals from Elina Svitolina, Vondrousova produced 7 crack points – and converted 5. It was not a fluke. Glimpse at her 4 preceding matches: Paula Badosa (3-for-5), Naomi Osaka (5-for-11), Mihaela Buzarnescu (5-for-14) and Kiki Bertens (3-for-5). It functions out to a grand whole of 21-for-42 (50 per cent).

Bencic has some phenomenal split figures herself, but she may possibly be sensation the heat of seeking to do some thing fellow Swiss athletes Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka could not – gain a singles gold medal.

And then there is Vondrousova’s forehand, a weapon that continuously overpowered Svitolina. Vondrousova is not concerned to move forward possibly, and is very handy around the net. She’s also taking part in with a chip on her shoulder right after employing a secured rating to slide into the Czech lineup ahead of Karolina Muchova. Really don’t discount this edge in her sport.

Read: Tokyo 2020: Five many years following successful Olympic gold, Puig sees greater picture

Two year in the past, Vondrousova astonished a ton of persons when she arrived at the last at 2019 Roland Garros. She was 19. Saturday, she will take the last stage to a breakthrough title. — Greg Garber

Bronze medal: No.4 Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) vs. No.15 Elena Rybakina (Kazakhstan)

Benefit, Svitolina

In a 2019 job interview with the New York Moments, Elina Svitolina described herself as a “hustler.” The Ukrainian has no delusions about her talents, but would make up for it with a dedication to maximise and squeeze every final drop out of them. At periods, she’ll get overpowered and outplayed — as in the Olympic semifinals by Marketa Vondrousova. That is just how tennis is. But Svitolina can rarely be discounted absolutely, and she is aware how to bounce back again when minimum envisioned.

Number of predicted her to conquer Serena Williams at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Or to be topped WTA Finals winner in 2018. Or to reach again-to-back semifinals at Wimbledon and the US Open up in 2019. Or even to arrive at the final four in Tokyo this week, taking into consideration she experienced not designed a semifinal because Stuttgart in April.

But there is certainly a motive Svitolina has not left the Top 10 due to the fact May well 2017, and that’s her sheer stickability. She clings on to chances like a limpet, and if she gets outhit then she recovers for the subsequent one particular.

Svitolina will require all her resilience to bounce again this time. Rybakina is still another taller, much better opponent with far more noticeable weaponry. She employed that to defeat Svitolina in Eastbourne just a month in the past. But these are slower courts, which suit Svitolina more — and, paradoxically, it really is normally been the much more straightforward Olympic semifinal loser who stands a much better possibility in the bronze playoff.

Rybakina fell in 2 several hours and 44 minutes to Belinda Bencic, in contrast to Svitolina’s 64 minutes from Marketa Vondrousova. And while the Kazakh has the ability, Svitolina — as she has demonstrated time and once again — has the hustle to scrap her way to a to start with tennis medal for Ukraine. — Alex Macpherson

Advantage, Rybakina

Elena Rybakina will be dictating the bronze medal match. This is no slight from the helpful, cerebral play of Elina Svitolina — it’s just how this Olympiad has long gone.

Rybakina has strike at minimum 16 a lot more winners than her opponent in each and every of her matches this week, including her quarterfinal upset of Garbiñe Muguruza, and even in her semifinal loss to Belinda Bencic. Rybakina’s deep, highly effective groundstrokes have been ably bolstered by her provide, which is averaging approximately four aces per established in Tokyo.

“I was hitting like this, tricky and quick, given that I’m young,” Rybakina claimed soon after ousting Serena Williams at this year’s French Open. “Of program, in advance of it was many a lot more mistakes, several far more incorrect conclusions. So I am hoping to work on it. But it was generally like this. I was hitting challenging, and this is my advantage.”

As she famous, Rybakina can die by the sword. With a real possibility to engage in for a gold medal, the strong photographs went awry at tense situations versus Bencic. Double faults and miscues price tag Rybakina her provide while major 5-3 in the first established, and she did not connect on numerous set details later on in the opener. Just after dropping that set, Rybakina could not get better in a a few-established struggle.

Even so, 22-year-aged Rybakina will be freed of a great deal of that rigidity as the underdog in opposition to fourth-seeded and a lot more professional Svitolina. The winners will keep on to movement from her racquet, and it will be up to her if they show up at pivotal times. If they can, Kazakhstan’s 1st Olympic medal in tennis may be hers. — Jason Juzwiak