Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova have a day off to rest and reflect on the enormity of the task ahead of them – playing for Olympic Gold on Saturday.
We just want to officially confirm that the #Tokyo2020 medals are not edible. Our medals are made from material recycled from electronic devices donated by the Japanese public. So, you don’t have to bite them ... but we know you still will. Official Tokyo 2020 Twitter account
They have come through a field of 64 of most of the best women in the world and, whoever wins, will gain a status that few have achieved.
These days there is greater awareness of the mental stresses that fame brings alongside its rewards, with the withdrawal of Naomi Osaka from Paris and American gymnast Simone Biles from Tokyo 2020.
“Look,” Monica Puig told the WTA website. “I won the Olympics back in 2016 and it was great and everything. But all the pressure and the recognition that comes with it afterwards, it’s really hard to deal with. Sometimes in the moment, you’re not ready for all that to be thrown your way.
“These women [Osaka and Biles] have done something that no other person has been able to do.
“In the end, it’s about cutting yourself a little bit of slack.”
Neither Bencic or Vondrousova will be thinking about the consequences, focusing instead on the task in hand and assured that they will come away from Saturday’s final with an Olympic medal. The question is, will it Gold or Silver?
Should Bencic triumph, she will become the first Swiss woman to win a Gold medal in tennis, and she will hope to make it a double success when she and Viktorija Golubic face Czech No 1 seeds Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova in the women’s doubles Gold medal match on Sunday.
Interestingly, it is the first time in history that the same two nations will contest both the women’s singles and doubles Gold medal matches at the Olympic Tennis Event.
Should Bencic win both her matches, she will become the 4th woman in history to win singles and doubles at the same Olympic Tennis Event.
For Vondrousova, victory would see her win Czech Republic’s first Gold medal at the Olympic Tennis Event since the Czechs have competed as an independent nation from Atlanta 1996 onwards.
This will be the second meeting between the two, Vondrousova having won when they met in the 3rd round at Miami-1000 earlier this year, recovering from a set down to win in 3 sets.
Bencic, however, has won 4 of her last 5 matches against left-handed players, with Vondrousova the only leftie to have defeated her, and she holds a 21-12 win-loss record against left-handers at Tour-level overall.
Vondrousova is bidding to defeat a Top 20 player for the 3rd time this week, having defeated No 2 Naomi Osaka in the 3rd round and No 6 Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals, and she has a 13-15 win-loss record against Top 20 players at Tour-level overall.
“I can’t believe it,” Vondrousova told the ITF. “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.
“I was thinking that [to win] two or three matches would have been great, and then I beat Naomi so then I thought that I was playing well and that maybe I could even do better.
“I’m now just happy to be in the final. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Meanwhile, Svitolina & Rybakina will be putting the disappointment of their semi-final defeats behind them as both bid for a piece of Olympic history for their nations in the Bronze medal match.
Neither Ukraine nor Kazakhstan have ever won a medal at the Olympic Tennis Event before, which means that the Bronze medal winner will see her nation become the 28th country to win an Olympic medal in tennis since the sport returned to the Games at Seoul in 1988 (or 29th if New Zealand win a Bronze medal in men’s doubles on Friday).
Svitolina is the higher-ranked of the pair, but they have split their two previous meetings, with Rybakina winning their most-recent match on the grass at Eastbourne last month, while the Ukrainian won in the final at Strasbourg last year .
This will be their first meeting on a hard court.
Rybakina has won 3 of the last 4 matches she has contested against Top 10 players, with her only defeat to a Top 10 opponent coming against No 4 Aryna Sabalenka in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, while she has a 7-7 win-loss record against Top 10 players on Tour overall.
In the women’s doubles final, the Gold medal match is set for Sunday, when the top-seeded Czech team of Krejcikova & Siniakova will aim to stop the Swiss duo of Bencic & Golubic, while the Bronze medal match between ROC’s Veronika Kudermetova & Elena Vesnina and surprise Brazilian duo Laura Pigossi & Luisa Stefani will be played on Saturday.
“Everybody was expecting us to be in the finals, but we had such a tough draw,” Krejcikova told the ITF after the semi-finals. “So now that we’ve got through, it’s perfect, a dream come true.
“We are in the finals of the Olympics, and we are representing our country – it’s something special, something very deep.
“I hope the people back home are going to be proud when we get one medal or the other.”
Sunday’s doubles final will have a touch of revenge about it since Bencic ended Krejcikova’s singles run in the quarter-final stage en route to the final.
“This is the biggest result I have reached so far – and the biggest result in doubles,” Bencic said. “To do it both in the same day, it’s for sure the best result.
“I don’t really want this dream to stop – we were talking about maybe we wake up tomorrow and none of this happened and we’re going to be sad.
“But it’s reality. We’re super-happy.”
They will all be hoping to bite into a Gold medal, although the Olympic Organising committee has urged athletes to stop the habit as they are made from recycled mobile phones.
“We just want to officially confirm that the #Tokyo2020 medals are not edible,” the official Tokyo 2020 Twitter account wrote on Sunday.
“Our medals are made from material recycled from electronic devices donated by the Japanese public. So, you don’t have to bite them … but we know you still will.”
Traditionally, anyone wanting to check on the purity of gold has bitten into it as the metal is soft and malleable, and teeth marks will leave an imprint.
Not that a bite would leave much of a mark on the 2021 Olympic medals, which are thought to contain just over one per cent gold, with the rest made up of silver and copper.
In the modern Olympic setting, it seems to be more about creating that iconic moment for the cameras.
In Tokyo, all of the metals are created from recycled mobile phones and devices that were donated by the Japanese public.
Dubbed the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project, the roughly 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals to be given out at the games were extracted from the metals of small electronic devices.
“We hope that our project of recycling small consumer electronics and our efforts to contribute to an environmentally-friendly and sustainable society will form part of the legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games,” the OOC added.