What's with tennis at the 2016 Rio Olympics? If the pullout of five players in the top 10 ATP rankings, including Roger Federer, was not enough, some shocking upsets have set the alarm bells ringing on the tennis courts. World number 1 and defending Olympic champion Serena Williams is the latest casualty, having lost 6-4 6-3 in the third round of the women's singles to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina. And it's not just tennis that is experiencing hiccups in Rio.
Here's a look at some of the major upsets and misfiring heavyweights:
Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic
The number ones are out of the race at Rio—both in singles and in doubles. Four years ago in London, Djokovic was denied the bronze by Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro. It was Porto again who shocked the Serbian 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) in the first round itself in Rio. Djokovic also lost the doubles as he and Nenad Zimonjic lost 6-4 6-4 to Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares in the second round. Serena, too, followed suit, losing the doubles—with sister Venus—6-3 6-4 to Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strýcová, and then crashing out of singles. Venus had already exited in the singles first round. World number 4 Garbine Muguruza and number 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, too, have bowed out.
Another world number 1 to bite the dust was South Korean archer Kim Woo-jin who was shot out in men’s individual archery by Indonesian Riau Ega Agatha—ranked 29 in the world—in the second round. The two-time world champion had won the gold in the team event and set a new world record of 700 out of a possible 720 points in the ranking round.
There's an infectious energy about Irish sports. Be it cricket or football, they give it all. So, the shoulders of boxing fans drooped when light flyweight boxer Paddy Barnes, who won the bronze in 2008 and 2012, losing in the semis to his nemesis Zou Shiming of China, was knocked out in the preliminary round of 32 by Spaniard Samuel Heredia Carmona on a split decision. Barnes later blamed his weight loss to fit into the 49-kg category for the loss because he became tired after the first round itself.
It was tears for Brazil on the judo mat, with Sarah Menezes—the reigning Olympic champion in the 48-kg category—losing to Dayaris Mestre Alvarez of Cuba. To rub salt into her wounds, she lost to Mongolia's Urantsetseg Munkhbat in the repechage round, too, injuring her arm in the process. The 26-year-old won gold at the 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2016 Pan American Championships.
Not to forget...
It's not just individual athletes who are finding the going tough. Team events, too, have sprung a few surprises. Football, for instance, has seen the Selecao draw their first two games—against South Africa and Iraq—leaving them on the brink. What makes matters worse is that the hot-favourites—captained by none other than Neymar—have failed to score a single goal so far.
Spain's basketball team, which is ranked number two in the world, lost its first two matches—72-70 to Croatia and 66-65 to Brazil. But the Spaniards are drawing inspiration from 2012 London Olympics where they lost two games but went on to clinch silver.