Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty Learn Their Pathway To Olympic Glory - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty Learn Their Pathway To Olympic Glory

The draws for the Tokyo Olympics have been announced!

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Novak Djokovic (SRB) serving against Matteo Berrettini (ITA) in the final of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 13 Sunday 11/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

Novak Djokovic will begin his quest for a first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien whilst reigning champion Andy Murray faces a tough opening match against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

 

The draw for most Olympic tennis events (except the mixed doubles) took place on Thursday morning with 64 players entered into the men’s singles tournament. Djokovic’s route to the gold medal sees him start against the Bolivian world No.139 who has never beaten a top 10 player in his career. Then in the second round a meeting against either Jan-Lennard Struff or Thiago Monteiro awaits. Should all matches go according to the rankings, Djokovic could play Alejandro Davidovich, Andrey Rublev, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev.

“(The) Olympics are specific in terms of pressure, expectations and emotions – everything is different compared to other tournaments and I know that very well, I felt it on my own skin in the past. Therefore, I will try to approach the Olympics in the same way that I approach other tournaments, so that I can stay focused on my goal.” Djokovic told reporters in Belgrade earlier this week.

At the other end of the draw, second seed Medvedev faces Alexander Bublik in his opening match in what will be their second meeting of the season. The Russian beat Bublik in straight sets at the French Open back in May. In his section of the draw, Medvedev could play Fabio Fognini in the third round.

Stefanos Tsitsipas will start his bid to become the first man from his country to win an Olympic medal in the Open Era against Philipp Kohlschreiber. Greece has only won two medals in tennis which occurred all the way back in 1896. Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev will take on Lu Yen-Hsun who has won an impressive 37 Challenger titles during his career.

As for the first round matches to look out for, Murray’s opening clash with Auger-Aliassime will be a chance for him to avenge his loss to the Canadian at the US Open last year. Meanwhile, home favourite Kei Nishikori will take on fifth seed Andrey Rublev in what promises to be a mouthwatering encounter. Finally, Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz will take on Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

Barty, Osaka headline women’s draw

image via twitter.com/AUSOlympicTeam

Two-time Grand Slam champion Ash Barty will play Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in her opening match. It will be the first time she has played the Spaniard, who lost to Angerlique Kerber in the second round at Wimbledon, on the Tour. Should she win Barty will play either Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova or France’s Fiona Ferro. Also in her section is Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and French Open champion Barbora Krejčíková.

“I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told itftennis.com. “For an Aussie, it’s the best thing you can do, and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself, you’re playing to make people proud, and that’s not just with the results, that’s with the attitude. With the Australian spirit that a lot of people talk about, it’s evident when you really see it and all of the athletes in that Olympic team are the very best at bringing that attitude and bringing that spirit.”

Naomi Osaka will make her return to professional tennis against China’s Zheng Saisai. The Japanese world No.2 hasn’t played a match since the French Open after taking time off due to her mental health. Osaka recently revealed that she has suffered from depression and social anxiety since 2018. She could play Kiki Bertens in the third round followed by Iga Swiatek.

In other first round matches, Aryna Sabalenka will play Magda Linette, Elina Monfils plays Laura Siegemund and Karolina Pliskova faces Alize Cornet.

Only one out of the three women who won an Olympic singles medal in Rio 2016 is playing in Tokyo. Bronze medallist Petra Kvitova starts against Jasmine Paolini and has been drawn in the same section as Garbine Muguruza who she could play in the third round.

The Olympic tennis tournament will get underway on Saturday.

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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Nine Major Singles Champions in Action on Monday

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A look at one of the outer courts at Ariake Tennis Park (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

The second round begins on Day 3 in both singles and doubles, with fascinating matchups throughout the day all around the Ariake Tennis Park.  Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka are the headliners of this tennis event, and both will again be considerable favorites on Monday.  But the most inspirational story of this event is Carla Suarez Navarro, who on Sunday earned her first singles win since announcing she is cancer-free just three months ago.  In the second round, she faces Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova.  On the men’s side, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic required an astounding 11 match points to advance in the first round.  Now he’ll take on Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, who just a week ago won the biggest title of his career in Hamburg, Germany.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing men’s and women’s matchup, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Karolina Pliskova (5) [CZE] vs. Carla Suarez Navarro [ESP] – Third on Court 3

Suarez Navarro played singles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but went down in three sets during the first round of both events.  Yet on Sunday against Ons Jabeur, one of 2021’s best players, Carla earned her first singles victory since coming back from fighting Hodgkin Lymphoma.  On Monday, she faces the WTA’s “Ace Queen,” who bounced back nicely from the disappointment of losing her second Major final by winning comfortably on Sunday.  Pliskova’s former coach Rennae Stubbs highlighted on NBC’s coverage how Karolina, one of the tallest players on tour, will not mind the high-bouncing conditions on the courts in Tokyo.  Their head-to-head has been rather even, with Pliskova holding a slight edge 4-3.  However, Karolina has claimed their last three meetings, dating back to 2015.  Pliskova’s level can fluctuate from day-to-day, and you certainly don’t want to underestimate the fight of Suarez Navarro, but the fire power of the fifth seed will be tough to overcome.

Pablo Carreno Busta (6) [ESP] vs. Marin Cilic [CRO] – Fourth on Court 1

Carreno Busta may be the seeded player, but he’s never beaten Cilic, who is 4-0 against the Spaniard.  Three of those four victories came on hard courts.  Marin has struggled in recent years, but rediscovered some strong form a month ago grass.  Cilic was the champion in Stuttgart, and was two sets up on Daniil Medvedev at Wimbledon before losing in five.  Hard courts have not been as friendly to Cilic of late, but Carreno Busta has exceled on this surface.  Pablo has reached the semifinals of the US Open twice in the last four years.  Both men have previous success representing their countries: Cilic helped Croatia win the Davis Cup in 2018, with Carreno Busta doing the same for Spain a year later.  But in tight matches, Pablo has been the far better performer over the last few years, and is a slight favorite to earn his first win over Marin.

Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Novak Djokovic (1) [SRB] vs. Jan-Lennard Struff [GER] – Djokovic is 5-0 against Struff, dropping only one of 14 sets played.

Naomi Osaka (2) [JPN] vs. Viktorija Golubic [SUI] – Osaka looked pretty sharp in her opening round on Sunday, her first match in 56 days.  28-year-old Golubic was a surprise quarterfinalist earlier this month at Wimbledon.

Daniil Medvedev (2) [ROC] vs. Sumit Nagal [IND] – On Saturday, Nagal became the first Indian man to win a singles match at the Olympics since 1996.  Medvedev did not appear to enjoy the heat and humidity during his first round, yet still prevailed in straight sets.

Aryna Sabalenka (3) [BLR] vs. Donna Vekic [CRO] – Sabalenka surrendered only three games in her opening round win.  Two years ago on a hard court in San Jose, she defeated Vekic in straight sets.

Iga Swiatek (6) [POL] vs. Paula Badosa [ESP] – Swiatek breezed through her first round match by a score of 6-2, 6-2, but Badosa is an impressive competitor in the midst of a breakout season, with 27 match wins.

Ash Barty and Storm Sanders (6) [AUS] vs. Yifan Xu and Zhaoxuan Yang [CHN] – Barty did not perform well in her first round singles loss, committing more than 50 unforced errors.  But she and good friend Sanders remain one of the most formidable teams in the women’s doubles draw.

Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Kei Nishikori Downs Rublev In Home Olympics Opener, Tsitsipas Survives Kohlschreiber

Kei Nishikori secured a big win at his home Olympics by beating Andrey Rublev.

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Kei Nishikori (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Kei Nishikori opened his home Olympics in Tokyo with a 6-3 6-4 win over 5th seed Andrey Rublev.

 

The former US Open finalist produced some of his best tennis to dominate the Russian to reach the second round.

Nishikori played some sublime tennis in the opening set using some great angles to dictate play.

Despite being broken in the seventh game, the world number 68 broke for a second time to take the opening set 6-3.

The Russian couldn’t outpower the Japanese star as he failed to create a break point in the second set.

A solitary break in the seventh game of the second set was enough as he secured a monumental victory.

After the match Nishikori told the ITF website how great it felt to put in a performance like that, “It’s been a while since I’ve been playing like this,” the 2016 bronze medallist said.

“I was struggling playing Top-10 players the last couple of months, or maybe all this year. This is the first time I’m playing a very solid match, so I’m happy of course beating Rublev, but also happy with my tennis today.”

Nishikori also spoke about playing at home in the Olympics and what that does to his game, “It’s good to be playing at home, especially this site,” Nishikori explained.

“I’ve been playing here a lot – sometimes it feels like home, though with no spectators it’s tough. But I have to enjoy playing here – I know many people are watching on TV, so I just have to focus on what I have to do on the court.”

Nishikori will now face Marcus Giron next who battled past Norbert Gombos in three sets.

Meanwhile Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first male Greek player since 1928 to win a match at the Olympics.

Tsitsipas recovered from a break down in the third set to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 3-6 6-3 in 1 hour and 54 minutes.

Tsitsipas will now look to get revenge for his Wimbledon loss as he plays Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

There were also wins for Diego Schwartzman, Alexander Zverev and Karen Khachanov while the only Brit in singles standing Liam Broady edged past Francisco Cerundolo 7-5 4-6(4) 6-2 in three hours and eleven minutes.

Broady will face 7th seed and Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz in the second round on Tuesday.

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Andy Murray Prioritises Doubles In Olympic Medal Bid After Singles Withdrawal

Andy Murray has decided to concentrate on doubles at the Olympics after withdrawing from singles.

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Andy Murray (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Andy Murray has prioritized doubles in a bid to win a medal at the Olympic games after withdrawing from singles.

 

The two-time defending gold medallist was due to play Felix Auger-Aliassime on Sunday but decided to withdraw.

Another heart-breaking decision by Murray after multiple injuries this season and was looking to prove his match fitness after reaching the third round at Wimbledon.

The official reason was a thigh strain and in a statement the Brit revealed that medical staff had advised against playing both singles and doubles, “I am really disappointed at having to withdraw but the medical staff have advised me against playing in both events, so I have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the singles and focus on playing doubles with Joe,” Murray said in a statement.

It’s a decision that was tough to make but was a smart decision as Murray looks to win his fourth Olympic medal.

In their first round match Murray and Joe Salisbury convincingly beat second seeds Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut just dropping five games.

Now the British duo will face German pair Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz in the second round.

Meanwhile Auger-Aliassime, who was due to meet Murray, faced Australian doubles specialist Max Purcell.

However the Canadian didn’t fare much better as he suffered a shock exit at the hands of the Australian 6-4 7-6(2).

Purcell will face Dominik Koepfer or Facundo Bagnis in the second round.

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