Olympic Tennis Preview: Men’s Singles
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Just a few weeks after Wimbledon, the top tennis players are back at the All England Club vying not for trophies but for Olympic medals in the 2012 London Olympic games. In the 2008 Beijing Games, Rafael Nadal took home the gold, Fernando Gonzalez took home the silver and Novak Djokovic the bronze. As Gonzalez is retired and Nadal had to pull out with knee problems, we will have some new medalists. Here is a preview of the draw. (http://2012.itftennis.com/olympics/results/men%27s-singles.aspx)
Top 8 Seeds:
1: Roger Federer
2: Novak Djokovic
3: Andy Murray
4: David Ferrer
5: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
6: Tomas Berdych
7: Janko Tipsarevic
8: Juan Martin Del Potro
1st round match ups to watch:
Roger Federer vs. Alejandro Falla
The Wimbledon champion will start his quest for gold in singles (he won the gold in doubles with Stanislas Wawrinka in the 2008 Games) against the man who pushed him to five sets in the 2010 Wimbledon tournament. While Federer will be a heavy favorite, there is always a chance for a scare.
Denis Istomin vs. Fernando Verdasco
Istomin reached the fourth round of Wimbledon while Verdasco has been up and down recently. FerVer is higher ranked but Istomin will have a good chance in this match up.
David Nalbandian vs. Janko Tipsarevic
Nalby and Tipsy will face a rematch after Tipsarevic beat Nalbandian in the first round of Wimbledon this year. Tipsarevic has also been on fire recently, winning Stuttgart and reaching the final of Gstaad. While that was on clay, it is still a good indication of his current form and why he will be a favorite in this match up. That being said, Nalbandian is always a threat on grass.
Bernard Tomic vs. Kei Nishikori
A couple of the most hyped young players in the game, Tomic and Nishikori have had polar career turns recently with Tomic having a very bad year and Nishikori having a good but inconsistent year. Tomic, who had a masterful run at Wimbledon last year, has not made a quarterfinal in any tournament since April and he bombed out his first match at both tournaments he played on grass, Eastbourne and Wimbledon. For his part, Nishikori is 20-12 on the year and reached the Round of 32 at Wimbledon and the Quarterfinals in Newport. He will be a favorite against Tomic, but both guys still have a lot of potential.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Andy Murray
If Andy Murray is to do well in his home nations Olympics, he will have to get past Stanislas Wawrinka in the opening round. Murray made the final of Wimbledon this year while Wawrinka will be the flag bearer for Switzerland in the opening ceremony. Wawrinka is not the most comfortable on grass but he is still a dangerous player who could cause problems for Murray.
David Goffin vs. Juan Monaco
One of the most intriguing young players in the game right now, Goffin will face Monaco, who just broke into the top ten and is in top form going into London. Goffin reached the Round of 32 at Wimbledon and the Round of 16 at the French Open. Monaco, who won Hamburg and was a finalist in Stuttgart will be a favorite, but Goffin could pull an upset.
Wimbledon Champ Federer will likely be able to reach the quarters, but to do so he will have to get past some old rivals. After Falla, he would draw Julien Benneteau, who pushed him to five sets at this year’s Wimbledon. He could also see Mikhail Youzhny, and could then play Istomin or Verdasco in the third round. His other two options are Atlanta finalist Gilles Muller and Adrian Ungur of Romania.
Tipsaervic could face Phillip Petzschner, who replaced Ivo Karlovic, or Lukas Lacko in the second round, and then could play a big third round clash with John Isner. Isner will face veteran serve and volleyer Olivier Rochus and then the winner of Lu Yen-Hsun and Malek Jaziri, neither of which should be too hard for Big John. The winner of that match makes the Quarters.
David Ferrer, now Spain’s top ranked participant, opens up against the young Vasek Pospisil of Canada. He would then face the winner of Philip Kohlschreiber vs. Blaz Kavic, a couple of guys who have been playing a lot of clay recently. Ferrer could face a dangerous third round clash with Nishikori. Nishikori will have to get through Tomic and Radek Stepanek or Nikolay Davydenko to make the date with Ferrer.
Del Potro opens up against Ivan Dodig and could face Andreas Seppi, who has had a great year and possibly Gilles Simon in the third round. Also lurking is the young Grigor Dimitrov, who has a game that does well on grass. Dimitrov opens up against Lukasz Kubot of Poland and then would face Simon or Mikhail Kukushkin.
Novak Djokovic faces Fabio Fognini in the opener and could get a strong looking Andy Roddick in what would be a second round blockbuster. If he gets through that, Marin Cilic is his likely third round opponent. Keep an eye on wily veterans Lleyton Hewitt and Jurgen Melzer, who spent a week in Vegas before the Olympics.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga starts off against a recently top performing Thomaz Bellucci and then could face the dangerous Milos Raonic in the second round. After that, he could play Monaco, who, after Goffin, will face the winner of Dmitry Tursunov vs. Feliciano Lopez.
The home favorite Murray will get Somdev Devvarman of India or Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in the second round after facing Wawrinka. Another rematch with Richard Gasquet could be in the cards for the third round. Go Soeda and Marcos Baghdatis, the flag bearer for Cyprus, are also in this part of the draw as is Dutchman Robin Haase.
A slumping Tomas Berdych, who lost in the first round to Ernest Gulbis at Wimbledon, will open against Steve Darcis of Belgium then could face Ryan Harrison in the second round. Rival Nicolas Almagro is lurking in the third round. Harrison starts off with Santiago Giraldo, while Almagro faces Viktor Troicki and then either Carlos Berlocq or Alex Bogomolov.
Dark Horse Dimitrov
Dark Horse: Grigor Dimitrov
The young Bulgarian is finally coming into his own and recently reached the semis in Bastad and Gstaad on clay. He has a game that plays well on grass and also reached the semis of Queen’s Club. He is 18-12 on the year and has a pretty lucky draw, as Gilles Simon hasn’t really been performing well recently and Del Potro is rather inconsistent. He has a nice shot at the quarterfinals at least.
Federer d. Tipsarevic
Ferrer d. Dimitrov
Murray d. Almagro
Djokovic d. Monaco
Federer d. Ferrer
Murray d. Djokovic
Federer d. Murray
In what would be a rematch of the Wimbledon final, and a second chance for Andy Murray to best Federer in best of five sets in front of the home fans.
3rd place match:
Djokovic d. Ferrer
Djokovic will attempt to repeat as Bronze medalist.