Svitolina eyeing Olympic gold; Women’s semi-final line-up

Full details of the two semi-final encounters, scheduled for Thursday in Tokyo

Elina Svitolina Elina Svitolina AI / Reuters / Panoramic

And then there were four.

Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic, Elena Rybakina and Marketa Vondrousova will contest the semi-finals of the women’s singles at the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Thursday:

Belinda Bencic (9) v Elena Rybakina (15)
Elena Svitolina (4) v Marketa Vondrousova

Pressure on Svitolina to deliver

As the most established and experienced of the four, No 4 seed Svitolina remains favourite for the title, but all four will be doing everything they can to get through to the gold medal match.

A quarter-finalist in Rio in 2016, Svitolina took care of things with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Camila Giorgi on Wednesday, continuing her excellent form, the pride of playing for her country on the biggest stage shining through.

“I know that for Ukraine, (Olympics) is a really big thing,” Svitolina told The Olympic Channel. “I value the Olympics as (much as) a Grand Slam and I tried to prepare to bring my best tennis. Here I am in the semi-final, and I can get a chance to get a medal. It’s very special for me, but I try to take one match at a time.”

The pressure will be on Svitolina when she plays Vondrousova, the Czech, who knocked out Naomi Osaka in the previous round, reaching the last four when Spaniard Paola Badosa retired after losing the first set of their quarter-final, seemingly unable to continue in searing heat. Svitolina leads 3-1 in their head to heads but lost their most recent meeting, on clay in 2020.

Swiss flag flying high

Bencic and Rybakina will meet for the first time, with an Olympic final as the prize for the winner.

Ninth seed Bencic came through a tough encounter with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, winning 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 to book her place in the semi-finals.

But Bencic will need to be at her best when she plays Rybakina, who caused the big shock of the day with a 7-5, 6-1 win over two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

The schedule on Thursday :

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