Olympics a high priority for the game’s best

Contrary to popular opinion, the world’s best tennis players clearly place Olympic gold high on their list of priorities. If you look at the list of previous winners in both Men’s and Women’s draws, you will see a list of very familiar names, most of whom have also tasted the ultimate success at grand slam level.

With the exception of Pete Sampras who made just the single appearance in 1992, the big names are almost always seen fighting it out at the Olympics every 4 years. Recent men’s gold medallists include Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Andre Agassi. Boris Becker and Roger Federer have also added Olympic gold to their trophy cabinets by winning the Men’s doubles in 1992 and 2008 respectively. Murray and Nadal have even been selected as the flag bearers at this year’s games, an occasion that Murray described as being the proudest moment of his career.

It is the same story with the women’s game. Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati and Steffi Graf are amongst the recent winners of singles gold with an additional array of big names who have taken out silver and bronze in the past.

This year in Rio, there are a few names missing from the men’s draw however primarily due to injury and health reasons. Swiss duo Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are absent with injury. Milos Raonic and Tomáš Berdych withdrew due to fears over the Zika virus. Dominic Thiem is the only male top 10 player to prioritise tour matches over the tournament in Rio.

In the women’s draw, Romanian Simona Halep will be the only female from the top 10 missing at the games. Serena Williams is favourite to go back-to back and claim her second singles gold medal.

Interestingly the event this year will be played on hard court as opposed to the more popular clay courts of South America. Competition in the tennis began overnight and there are 5 events at this year’s games; Men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles and the mixed doubles.


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