London 2012: Andy Murray and 5 Tennis Stars Who Are Favorites to Win Gold
With tennis returning to London for the Olympic Games, who is favored to take home gold for his home country?
All the traditional favorites will be attending this massive tournament to decide, once and for all, who is the greatest tennis player in the world.
Andy Murray is the golden child in the UK, especially after his gutsy performance during Wimbledon, but can he take the London crowd on an emotional ride once again and find himself in contention for gold?
Could someone other than the "big four" capture the Olympic gold? In order to answer that question, here are the six tennis stars who will be the favorites to win gold at the 2012 Olympics.
No. 6 John Isner
John Isner, the male American competitor at the Olympics, will have a legitimate shot at taking home a gold medal this summer.
Isner has played some interesting matches at Wimbledon to say the least, highlighted by the last two years, when he played in marathon five-set matches that have led to his downfall early in the tournament.
Although Isner has struggled at Wimbledon in recent years, he does have some success against the big boys this season. Isner defeated Federer and Tsonga this season at the Davis Cup and beat Novak Djokovic as well. He also won his most recent tournament at Newport R.I. and should ride that hot streak into the Olympics.
If Isner can avoid an early-round upset, the No. 10 player in the world will be in the hunt to bring home the gold for the United States for the first time since Andre Agassi won the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga put on quite a performance at Wimbledon, reaching the semifinals but eventually losing to Andy Murray in four sets.
If Tsonga can continue his loose play, without the heckling of a coach, the Frenchmen will make a deep run at the Olympics.
Tsonga is a physical specimen and his level of attrition and conditioning is top notch, which should help him dominate in London. With the short transition from Wimbledon to Olympic competition, a player of Tsonga's condition and strength will be able to use his heavy serve and net-charging abilities to put away points early and often.
If Tsonga can continue his serve and volley style that gave him success late in the match against Murray, he will be a major contender for the gold.
As France's only legitimate hope for tennis gold in London, expect Tsonga to attack with massive first serves and entertaining play and challenge the world's best along the way.
No. 4 Rafael Nadal
After stumbling in the second round at Wimbledon, the pressure will be mounting on Rafael Nadal to perform well at the Olympics.
Nadal has won two Wimbledon titles and did win the last Olympics in Beijing, but things will be much tougher for the Spaniard this time.
Nadal has championship pedigree on his side and he must look to regain his top form if he wants to win gold at the All England Club. If his serve is working well and he can run around the court with no serious pain, Nadal will take home the gold in 2012.
His lack of consistency in recent tournaments and increased competition from players like Tsonga, Murray and Ferrer—players who were once chump change for the likes of Nadal—will make this run in the Olympics much more difficult.
Having said that, do not count out the best left-handed tennis player in the world. He has all the talent to take the gold medal back to Spain in 2012.
No. 3 Andy Murray
Andy Murray captivated the audience at Wimbledon and should do just the same if not more for the Olympics. Murray has shown by his finals performance against Federer that he is on the precipice of winning the first title for Great Britain since Fred Perry in 1936.
Murray played much more aggressively at Wimbledon as compared to recent events and is the one man in tennis who is most deserving of a title. Murray plays all-out and allows the excitement of the moment—something that used to plague the Brit, especially at Wimbledon—to fuel him.
If Murray is going to win gold, he must defeat the big three in men's tennis. That will be no easy task. Murray's second serve must remain a weapon in this tournament. For him to win gold, he must look to play quicker points, putting away his opponents with the forehand when given the opportunity.
Murray is ready to unleash years of frustration by winning a huge event. Maybe the 2012 Olympics, and playing at the All England Club in front of his home supporters for the second time in a month, will be the stage for Murray to do that.
All of this would add to the beauty of the Olympics by setting the cursed British nation free from tennis infamy.
No. 2 Novak Djokovic
After coming off a disappointing loss against Federer in the Wimbledon semifinals, Novak Djokovic will be carrying a chip on his shoulder as the Olympics roll around.
This last year has been one of Djokovic's best. It has included three Grand Slam titles and a trip to the French Open final against Rafael Nadal. Djokovic was the No. 1 player in the tennis world before Wimbledon, and if he wants to reassert his reign as the best in the business, he will dominate the Olympic field.
Trying to remain on top for a long period of time is no easy task, but if Djokovic wants raise Olympic gold, he must play with the same passion and confidence that got him one win away from a Grand Slam in 2011.
Djokovic must look to take a page from Federer by using his backhand more as a weapon to throw opponents off to set up his powerful forehands.
Although Roger Federer played otherworldly tennis at Wimbledon, the world's former No. 1 has the skill and experience to raise Olympic gold in London.
No. 1 Roger Federer
The Roger Federer that we witnessed at Wimbledon looked like the man who won five straight Wimbledon titles from 2003-2007. Federer used his tremendous backhand for essentially the entire final against Andy Murray, controlling most of the match.
Federer's skills are unparalleled and no player is ready to dethrone the world's current No. 1 player at this stage. Federer has always stepped up his game on the biggest stage. Therefore, with the opportunity to bring home gold for Switzerland, expect the 30-year-old to play his best at the London Olympics.
Federer understands the importance of the moment and is playing some of his best tennis in recent years. Assuming that he can avoid the early-round upset bug that has been plaguing the world's best recently, expect Federer to raise Olympic gold in London.