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Former UGA standout Perez falls in Olympic doubles

62 days ago
Georgia Athletics
Photo: Georgia athletics

ATHENS, Ga. -- Former University of Georgia standout Ellen Perez made a historic run for her home country of Australia in the Olympic women's doubles competition in Tokyo.

Paired with Sam Stosur, the duo won two matches before falling in the quarterfinals Wednesday and just missing a chance for a medal.

In the first round, Perez and Stosur began with a 4-6, 6-1 [10-5] come-from-behind win over the Latvian duo Jelena Ostapenko and Ansatasija Sevastova. The Australians stormed back in a tie-break win after the Latvians took a 5-1 lead.

In the second round, they faced the Romanian team of Monica Niculescu and Raluca Olaru who had knocked out the fifth seed in their opening match. Perez and Stosur advanced after a thrilling 7-6[3], 7-5 victory over the Romanian duo.

The Australians trailed 5-1 in the first set and saved seven set points before taking the first set in a tiebreaker. Then, they closed out the match with another tight set at 7-5.

In the quarterfinals, Perez and Stosur faced a stiff test, drawing the Swiss combination of Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic. The Swiss team made headlines with an opening round upset of the second-seeded Japanese pair of Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara.

Bencic and Golubic had a strong start, pushing ahead with a 5-2 lead against Perez and Stosur.

The Australians fought back, but it wouldn't be enough as the Swiss duo secured the opening set as Bencic, who is in the singles semifinals, held serve to notch the first set. The Swiss team picked up an early break in the second set and went on to register a 6-4,6-4 victory to advance to the medal round.

This was the fifth Olympic games for the 37-year-old Stosur and the first for the 25-year-old Perez.

Stosur is a former world No. 1 doubles player with six Grand Slam doubles titles while Perez won her second Women's Tennis Association (WTA) doubles title earlier this year.

Currently, Perez holds a world ranking of No. 50 in doubles. She was a five-time All-American at Georgia and turned professional in 2017.

Australia had one other duo in the field, the sixth seed in Ashleigh Barty and Storm Sanders. However, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals too.

Still, this was the first time the Australian national team had sent two doubles teams to the Olympic quarterfinals. No Australian duo has medaled since Rachel McQuillan and Nicole Bradtke's 1992 bronze at Barcelona.