A slew of big WTA names have opted out of Tokyo 2020, but the 64-player field is still strong with 15 Top 20 players at the Olympic Tennis Event. Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty headline the women’s singles draw which was released on Thursday.
All eyes will definitely be on Naomi Osaka. The Japanese is making her Olympic debut in her home country and at the same time a return to tennis after nearly two months of inactivity to focus on her mental health.
The last competitive match Osaka played was her first-round win over Patricia Maria Tig at Roland Garros. After not showing up at the mandatory post-match press conference, Osaka got a $15,000 fine and warning of further sanctions if she continued to ignore the media. The 23-year-old then decided to pull out of Roland Garros, and subsequently Wimbledon.
Seed No.2 Osaka starts her Olympic campaign against China’s world No.52 Zheng Saisai on Saturday at the Ariake Tennis Park, the site of the WTA 500 Toray Pan Pacific Open. If she wins the opener, her second-round opponent will be either Viktorija Golubic or Maria Camila Osorio Serrano. The first seeded opponent Osaka could face is No.16 Kiki Bertens in the third round and then sixth seed Iga Swiatek in the quarterfinals. It’s a long shot, but if we look at the seedings, Karolia Pliskova or Elina Svitolina are Osaka’s projected semifinal opponents, while top-ranked Ashleigh Barty is her final obstacle.
Fresh off her Wimbledon title, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty is ready to kick off her first appearance at the Olympics against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain. In the second round, Barty will face Fiona Ferro or Anastasija Sevastova. Seed No.13 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova awaits in the third round, while reigning Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova is a potential quarterfinal opponent. Third seed Aryna Sabalenka or seventh seed Garbine Muguruza could be Barty’s semifinal opponents, if results follow the seedings. Barty could meet Osaka in the final.
Some notable first-round clashes in Tokyo include: Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Ons Jabeur, Maria Sakkari vs. Anett Kontaveit, Donna Vekic vs. Caroline Garcia, Garbine Muguruza vs. Veronika Kudermetova.
For full draws, visit the Olympic Tennis Event website.
Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic won a bronze medal in singles at the 2016 Rio Olympics and is the only singles medalist from Rio returning in Tokyo, as both gold medalist Monica Puig and silver medalist Angelique Kerber have withdrawn from Tokyo 2020.
Women’s doubles gold medalists in Rio were Russian’s Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova. Elena Vesnina is now in Tokyo and this time she will partner with Veronika Kudermetova, with whom she reached the Wimbledon final two weeks ago.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands is also back at the Olympics — the American won a mixed doubles gold medal with Jack Sock in Rio de Janeiro. In Tokyo women’s doubles, Mattek-Sands is partnered with Jessica Pegula.