Most of the top seeds melted away early in the Olympic women’s tennis tournament, and No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina fell in the semifinals. That leaves No. 9 Belinda Bencic and unseeded Marketa Vondrousova to battle for the gold medal in the singles competition on Saturday.
Vondrousova eliminated Svitolina 6-3, 6-1 to book her spot in the gold medal match.
An unexpected run for gold
The result was far more than Vonrousova, ranked No. 42 in the world, ever expected when she entered the Olympic tournament.
“I was thinking that two or three matches would have been great, and then I beat Naomi [Osaka], so then I thought that I was playing well and that maybe I could do better,” Vonrousova told reporters. “I’m now just happy to be in the final. It’s an amazing feeling. I can’t believe it. Maybe it’ll sink in later. This is amazing, even if it’s silver or gold, it’s amazing and I’m just very proud.”
Vonrousova isn’t a complete stranger to major finals. In 2019, she reached the French Open final, only to lose to Ashleigh Barty in straight sets. The Czech is known for her excellent return game and has one WTA title to her credit.
Bencic has enjoyed more consistent success on tour, even if she hasn’t reached the same heights as Vonrousov. The Swiss professional ranks No. 12 in the world, and ranked as high as No. 4 last year. Her best finish in a major was reaching the semifinals in the 2019 US Open.
Bencic playing for two gold medals in Tokyo
Bencic has put in the best work of her career this week in Tokyo. Not only is she in the women’s tennis singles final, but she’ll also play with partner Viktorija Golubic in the women’s doubles final as well.
“I didn’t expect this, I didn’t imagine,” Bencic said of reaching both finals. “I dreamed of this but we just said that we hope tomorrow we don’t wake up in our bed and it’s just a dream and we’re gonna be pinching each other.”
Bencic reached the final after a three-set victory over Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who came in as the No. 15 seed. After winning the first set in a tiebreak, Bencic held on for the victory, 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-3.
Vondrousova comes into the match as a slight -144 favorite over Bencic (+108), according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Meanwhile, Svitolina will play Rybakina for the bronze medal. FanDuel rates Rybakina as the -146 favorite over Svitolina (+110).
Both the gold medal and bronze medal matches will take place on Saturday afternoon at Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo.