When the 2012 Olympic men's singles draw was announced yesterday, No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia learned he will meet world No. 65 Fabio Fognino of Italy in the first round. Then things are going to get tougher.
The complete draw - and the ongoing results once play begins --can be found at http://2012.itftennis.com/olympics/results/men's-singles.aspx. The daily order of play is at http://2012.itftennis.com/olympics/schedule/daily-schedule.aspx. The schedule for the first day of competition -- Saturday, July 28 -- was posted last night.
Djokovic faces a potential second round match-up against unseeded 29-year-old American Andy Roddick, now ranked No. 22, a three-time Wimbledon finalist who lost in this year's Wimbledon in the round of 32 to Spain's David Ferrer. Roddick's emotional farewell wave to the appreciative crowd as he left Centre Court (they remember well his heartbreaking 14-16 final set loss to Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon final) raised questions about whether 2012 might have been his last appearance at Wimbledon.
But here he is, back barely a month later, seemingly ready to go, though under very different circumstances.
A resurgent Roddick rebounded from the dispiriting Wimbledon loss to win the hardcourt tournament in Atlanta that concluded on July 22, defeating American No. 1 John Isner in the semis. If Roddick's ailing right shoulder cooperates and he can serve as well as Federer did against Djokovic in the recent Wimbledon semifinal, Roddick has a chance. He has shown again recently that his serve remains one of the best in the game, and it would be great to see him challenge Djokovic's skills as the game's best returner.
Some readers may be surprised to learn that Roddick's head-to-head record versus Djokovic is 5-3, all on hardcourts. But they have not met since 2010, well before Djokovic became the world No. 1 the following year. Unless Australian Lleyton Hewitt pulls one last rabbit out of the hat (the former world No. 1 did beat Roger Federer on grass in the 2010 final at Halle), Djokovic would then likely meet either No. 13 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, who lost to Andy Murray at Wimbledon this year in the round of 16, or Jurgen Melzer of Austria in the third round. Cilic is 5-2 head to head versus Melzer, including a win in their only meeting on grass at Queens.
A Djokovic-Tsonga Quarterfinal?
If the form charts hold, Djokovic would play France's No. 5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals, assuming the French 2012 Wimbledon semifinalist can overcome Thomas Bellucci of Brazil in the first round, before meeting, potentially, hard-serving Milos Raonic of Canada in the second. Then Tsonga would face veteran Spanish player Feliciano Lopez or recent Belgian sensation David Goffin (who took a set from Federer in the round of 16 at Roland Garros and reached the Wimbledon third round before losing to Mardy Fish), or No. 10 seed Juan Monaco of Argentina, whose success has come mostly on clay. A match-up between Tsonga and Djokovic in the quarterfinals is arguably the best potential match in that round.
The match that captured immediate attention after the draw in London was the first round contest between No. 3 seed Andy Murray and unseeded but No. 26 ranked Stanislas Wawrinka. They have played 10 times, with Murray winning 6, including their only meeting on grass, a five-setter in the 2009 Wimbledon round of 16.
Wawrinka was selected to replace Roger Federer as the Swiss flag bearer for the Games' opening ceremonies, so there had been some concern before the order of play was announced for the first day of tennis competition on July 28 that Wawrinka would be on his feet for several hours the night before a big first round match. But the scheduling gods were kind: Wawrinka has the first day off. Murray has the first day off from singles competition, as well, though he is scheduled to play an opening round doubles match with his brother Jamie against the dangerous Austrian pair of Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Peya.
The Only Players with Wins Over Federer at Wimbledon, Both in the Lower Half of the Draw
Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic is the most formidable player in Murray's quarter of the draw, based on his third consecutive year of being ranked in the world's Top 10 and his accomplishments on the courts at Wimbledon. He reached the Wimbledon final in 2010 before losing to Nadal, and he defeated Roger Federer in the quarterfinals along the way.
Indeed, since Nadal withdrew, Berdych is one of only two players in the 2012 Olympic field with a win over Federer at Wimbledon. The other is France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who upset Federer in 2011 in the quarterfinals, coming back from two sets down. (A reminder, no one will be able to come back to win from two sets down in the Olympic tournament until the final. Until then, it's the best two-of-three sets.)
Berdych did lose in the first round of this year's Wimbledon in straight sets to Latvia's unpredictable shotmaker Ernests Gulbis, but unless he's nursing an injury or is rusty from an almost five-week lay-off from tour-level completion, he seems to me likely to be able to overcome the other two seeds in his quarter of the draw, No. 16 Richard Gasquet of France and/or No. 11 Nicolas Almagro of Spain.
Let the Games begin!
- Sports & Recreation
- Novak Djokovic
- Andy Roddick
- Andy Murray