Olympics, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray: A Tournament Preview
World No. 1 and No. 1 seed Roger Federer, winner of the Olympic doubles last time around, will face off against Colombia's Alejandro Falla in the first round.
World No. 2 and No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic, a bronze medal winner in 2008 in Beijing, will begin Serbia's campaign against Italy's Fabio Fognini. While No. 3 seed Andy Murray, drawn in the same half as Djokovic, will face off against Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka in his first match.
Here's a closer look at the top contenders:
Clearly, Roger Federer is the member of the top three with the most benign draw—David Ferrer being a potential semifinal opponent—and his Olympic chances are looking very good. As the winner of Wimbledon just a few weeks ago, Federer has the feel of the grass under his feet and is in good form.
Additionally, his prowess when playing under a roof cannot be understated. He is a four-time winner of the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup/World Tour Finals played indoors, and such an achievement is a testament to a deliberately low-percentage game that has been honed to expose deficiencies in his opponents who typically tend to favor bigger margins of error.
Who is the favorite for the Olympic Gold Medal?
After his Wimbledon victory, I said that if the Olympics were washed out, Federer would have to be the favorite.
I still stand by that.
To be Novak Djokovic at this moment in time—while desirable—probably isn't the easiest thing in the world. Coming off a stellar 2011, Djokovic's biggest goals in 2012 were the French Open title and an Olympic gold medal.
Somewhere along the line, though, perhaps after his exertions in Melbourne at the Australian Open at the start of the year, there was a disconnect. A disconnect between what he expected of himself and what he could produce.
It was always going to be the natural course of things that after a year like the last (winning 10 tournaments including three Grand Slam titles), he would dip in 2012. And even though he won the Australian Open, I considered his performance there as a dip from 2011. I have a feeling, though, that he will have a resurgence in time for this Olympics and the US Open.
He is my favorite for the title.
The easiest thing to say about Andy Murray, certainly from his recent history at major tournaments, is that he won't win—that he'll lose to Federer or Djokovic with a whimper etc
But that's too easy. I think Murray has improved as a player since going under the tutelage of Ivan Lendl, and his performance at Wimbledon this year showed it.
He got to the final—I'm not saying Nadal's absence didn't help, although you can only play what's in front of you—and he played a brand of tennis (through his forehand, which is very important) against Federer that we haven't seen from him before or certainly not consistently.
If Murray is to have a chance at winning a major title, this is as great an opportunity as any. There is the best-of-three sets format, he has home support (although, he also has the unfortunate pressure that brings) and he has the game. Yes, he may have to meet Djokovic in the semifinals and Federer in the final, but nothing is set in stone. And even if it is set in stone, when the hour comes the man could very well come through.
Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from the tournament has thrown a spanner in the works in the sense that there is now potentially a semifinal place up for grabs.
Will winning the Olympics hurt the winner's chances at the US Open?
David Ferrer, the No. 4 seed, of course would be the favorite for that spot. However, given the best-of-three set format and the surface (which wouldn't count as his favorite, despite a good quarterfinal appearance in this year's Wimbledon tournament), anything is possible.
As such, there is a spot in the last four up for grabs for floaters such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Martin Del Potro (who, year by year, is becoming a better player on grass) and also, but to a much lesser degree, Tomas Berdych.
The full draw can be found here.
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