2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R3 Preview
(1) 🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs (15) 🇺🇦 Elina Svitolina
Serena Williams will continue her quest for a fifth Olympic gold medal on Wednesday evening when she comes up against Elina Svitolina at the third round stage in Rio. Serena has looked fairly sharp in her opening couple of matches, overcoming a couple of tough opponents in straight sets. Serena will face a familiar challenge against Svitolina, one she should be very well equipped to overcome.
Serena Williams has needed to be on guard from the very beginning of the tournament in Rio. The world number 1 and reigning Olympic singles champion started her Rio campaign with a hard-fought 6-4 6-2 win over Daria Gavrilova, the first set was fairly close before Serena ran away with the match in the second set. Serena’s second round match followed a similar path. Serena advanced to the third round courtesy of a 7-6 6-2 win over Alize Cornet, the American was in trouble at several stages in the opening set where she managed to save a couple of set points before comfortably claiming the second set. Serena wasn’t at her best in her first few matches but her level has generally been pretty good.
Elina Svitolina has made a fitting start to her first ever Olympic campaign. The Ukrainian has advanced to the third round in Rio thanks to a couple of gutsy victories. Svitolina was forced to come from a set down in her opening round clash against Andrea Petkovic before beating Heather Watson 6-3 1-6 6-3. The surface in Rio is well suited to Elina’s game, a dead hard court which encourages long rallies and rewards those that can move well around the court (which is one of Svitolina’s greatest strengths).
Serena Williams holds a 4-0 head-to-head record over Elina Svitolina, three of those four matches were straight set wins including their last two meetings: a 6-4 6-3 win in Cincinnati last year and a commanding 6-1 6-1 win at Roland Garros earlier this year.
This might be the ideal surface for Svitolina to play Serena on, however I still expect Serena to win this match quite comfortably. Serena has played a couple of players that have quite similar games to Svitolina so she will be well prepared heading into this match and will know exactly what she has to do against this type of opponent on this surface. Svitolina will be typically tough but ultimately she lacks the weapons and bravery under pressure to really challenge Serena.