London 2012: Tennis Dark Horses at This Year's Olympic Games
The 2012 London Olympics are almost upon us, and that means five gold medals will be handed out in tennis.
There will be exciting competitions in men's singles and doubles, women's singles and doubles as well as mixed doubles.
This Olympics will feature plenty of star power.
From Roger Federer to Rafael Nadal, from Maria Sharapova to the Williams sisters, the tennis tournament will be loaded with intrigue.
Playing the tournament at this historic All-England club will add another layer of excitement.
While those names will be considered as the favorites, they are not the only players in the tournament.
There are plenty of sleepers who can rise up and take the tournament. In the Olympics, anything can happen.
Which players can get hot and shock the world?
We'll give you five potential names.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is currently the best French player out there and will be France's best hope to bring home gold in the Olympics.
Tsonga, who just lost a close match to Novak Djokovic in the French Open, is an aggressive player with a good serve.
He has also played well at Wimbledon, beating Roger Federer in the quarterfinals last year, storming back from two sets down to win. He ended up losing in the semifinals.
This season, he has played well, winning at the Qatar Open.
Tsonga is always a good bet to pull off an upset, and his experience at Wimbledon will help.
Tsonga has a high-risk, high-reward style. He could either pull off a stunning upset or be out early in the tournament.
The Olympics will be no different.
But if Tsonga can channel his energy and play focused tennis, there is no reason that he can't pull off a string of upsets and compete for a medal.
Juan Martin Del Potro
The 6-6 Argentine will hope to win gold for a country that has never even won a Davis Cup.
His height can be an advantage, but on grass, it tends to be a disadvantage, according to B/R's Stephen Fenech:
Delpo is 6'6", which is a great asset when he is serving, but his size is a liability on grass courts. It is a liability because the ball tends to skid on grass and doesn't bounce as high.
That won't help him at Wimbledon, and it could be a struggle.
But del Potro has played well this year, winning at the Estoril Open and the Tour Open 13.
He fought back from a brutal wrist injury and won ATP Comeback Player of the Year in 2011. He is a fighter.
An aggressive player, when del Potro is on, he can beat anyone in the world.
His biggest accomplishment in his career was clearly his 2009 US Open victory over Roger Federer. He will need to channel that victory if he wants to win gold in London.
Milos Raonic is Canada's best hope for Olympic gold in tennis. He is the highest-ranked player in Canadian history.
He has a terrific serve, and it is particularly good on grass. He is aggressive and tenacious.
In 2012, he won the Aircel Chennai Open, where he did not drop a serve, and the SAP Open.
He lost in the third round of the French Open.
At 21, the Olympics might be a huge stage for Raonic, but he seems to very excited, according to The Globe and Mail:
“It's really an amazing opportunity,” the 21-year-old Raonic said of the Olympics. “It's a rare one and it will be something brand new to me. It's going to be about representing myself well, representing Canada well, playing some good tennis and making the best of it.”
Raonic will be a long shot, as he has to face such tennis heavyweights as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. But with a big serve and a spunky attitude, he might just surprise some people.
Tomas Berdych is the best Czech player and will look to bring back a medal for his home country.
Berdych has played well at Wimbledon, reaching the final in 2010.
This season, he won the Hopman Cup and the Open Sud de France. He was the seventh seed in the French Open, losing in the fourth round.
He is 28-8 for the year. On grass, Berdych has three career wins.
Berdych will look to channel his 2010 performance to contend for a medal in London.
In that tournament, he beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic before losing to Rafael Nadal in the finals. To medal in London, he will need to follow a similar path.
His technically sound game is capable of doing just that, and he will use a strong forehand to beat opponents.
While Berdych will have to play his best to get past the "Big Three," he certainly has a chance to advance deep into the tournament and, as in 2010, pull off some shocking upsets.
Andy Murray will have a lot of pressure on him, as he is Great Britain's best chance to win gold in tennis. As the hosts of this year's Olympics, all eyes will be on Murray.
Murray has struggled a bit this year, as his only win was at the Brisbane International.
There have long been high expectations on Murray in his home country. At Wimbledon, he has finished in the semifinals three times.
Part of his struggles can be traced to back problems. According to BBC, he does feel better:
"I feel much better," Murray told BBC Sport. "The grass will probably be good for me. I've had a few good days practice here and it all feels good."
If Murray's back is truly better, than he will be a contender. As the No. 4 player in the world, Murray will have to play like it in order to beat one of the "Big Three."
For the 24-year-old Murray, the Olympics are bigger than a Grand Slam, via the Daily Mail:
I'd be desperate to win Olympic gold. I think either winning a Slam or Olympic gold would be celebrated by the nation but winning an Olympic medal is something that belongs to your country as well. In sporting terms I would say the Olympics is bigger than winning a Grand Slam because everybody knows what Olympic gold is, whereas not everybody knows what a Grand Slam is.
With the hopes of a nation on his back, Murray will need to turn that desperation into results. In Grand Slams, he has been the bridesmaid three times, but never the bride.
Winning gold in London would be the signature moment of his career and would make him a legend in his home country. There will be lot of pressure.
If he handles it well and plays his defensive style to perfection, then Murray has a chance to pull off some upsets and win Olympic gold.