Favorites old and new advance on day three of Rio tennis

SERENA

It’s been a difficult few days in Rio for Serena Williams, 34. Though she won her Sunday singles match, she and sister Venus fell hard in the first round of doubles Sunday night. It was the siblings’ first-ever loss in Olympic doubles. What’s more, the four-time gold medalist and 22-time Grand Slam singles winner saw her sister lose a nail-biting first round match on Saturday evening.

She released all that pent-up emotion on the ball Monday night, swinging hard into a 7(7)-6(5), 6-2 victory.

THE AMERICANS

First, the good news. Seventh-seeded singles player Madison Keys survived a tight match against France’s doubles specialist Kristina Mladenovic. The players traded sets before Keys battled her way through a third set tiebreak, winning 7-5, 6(4)-7(7), 7(7)-6(5).

And with all the craziness at this tournament, there’s a chance American men could win a doubles medal.

Duo Jack Sock and Steven Johnson seem to be on the right track. They bested the Colombian team of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-4, 7(7)-6-1.

Sock has previously won doubles Grand Slam titles. He and Johnson are both trying to establish themselves in singles, though the former lost in the first round of singles on Saturday.

It wasn’t all good news. Another U.S. men’s doubles team, Brian Baker and Rajeev Ram,lost their second round match. And strong women’s duo Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Coco Vandeweghe fell to 5th-seeded Swiss players Timea Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis.

OTHER TOP MATCHES

Though a number of top seeds have already been eliminated from the Rio Olympics, some favorites – old and new – blasted through the second round of competition on Monday.

Women’s singles

January’s Australian Open winner Angelique Kerber of Germany didn’t have to work too hard in her match against Canada’s unseeded Eugenie Bouchard. Kerber, the World No. 2 who’s seeded as such at the Games, downed her opponent in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.

That afternoon, Garbine Muguruza of Spain – this year’s French Open winner – bested her unseeded Japanese opponent, Hibino Nao, 6-1, 6-1.

Both women are medal favorites, and both have defeated Serena in a Grand Slam final in 2016.

Men’s singles

Two French singles favorites saw different fates today. On court 2, 5th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, seeded 5th, was knocked out in straight sets by Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller. But on court 1, 6th-seeded trickster Gael Monfils defeated Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-2, 6-4.

Then there’s Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, who’s been on the circuit for about a decade but spent much of the past several years sidelined by injury. After pulling off an incredible upset Sunday night by defeating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round, he struggled against Portugal’s Joao Sousa. After taking the first set 6-3, del Potro lost the second 1-6. He managed to dig it out in the third, ultimately winning 6-3.

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