Tennis was part of the Olympics from the start - all the way since 1896 but had some problems with defining amateur players and it was dropped from 1928 up until 1968 when it returned as an exhibition event.
1984 was the year when it was reinstated for good and open to anyone to try even under 21 years old which was forbidden before that.
Andy Murray won the last 2 Olympic events – on hard in 2016 in Rio and on Grass in London in 2012.
Major difference this time in Tokyo is that the final won’t be contested in best of 5 and instead will be best of 3 and all men’s matches leading up to the final will be with a tiebreak in the 3rd instead of an open 2 games difference ends it rule.
Novak Djokovic is the top seed and absolute favorite to add more gold to his stellar year. He is priced at just -175 to take home the gold for Serbia. Juan Martin Del Potro who is missing the event even joked with Novak that he has a good chance now as it was the Argentine who defeated Novak in the last 2 Olympics, so one obstacle less.
Djokovic became just the 2nd player after Rod Laver in 1969 to win the first 3 Grand Slams of the year. If he somehow manages to win the Gold Medal and US Open afterwards there shouldn’t be much more debate who is the GOAT in tennis.
Novak is 34-3 on the year and 17-1 on hard court last 12 months with the only loss coming as being defaulted for hitting a linesman in the throat with the ball after a point was finished in last year’s US Open. He has lost a total of 4 matches on Hard court in last 50 and has a 14.3% ROI. His last hard-court loss in an official match came during Shanghai Masters to Stefanos Tsitsipas in October 2019.
Andrey Rublev is Novak’s potential opponent in the ¼ finals but the Russian has an interesting battle with Kei Nishikori in the 1st round. This will be the 1st Olympics showing for Andrey and first time playing in Japan as a whole. He hasn’t been good on hard court either with a misleading 17-4 record on the surface this year and 21-6 in last 12 months but has an awful ROI standing at -11.4% and his last 3 losses have come while being at least -300 favorite. Nishikori made it to the QF in 2012 and took the bronze defeating Nadal in Rio.
After losing to Tsitsipasin in French Open SF back in the beginning of June he regressed a bit on the Grass losing to Humbert in R2 in Halle and to Felix Auger in R4 in Wimbledon as a -400 favorite. This will be his 1st Olympics and his hard court record doesn’t spark much enthusiasm either with only 10-4 on the year with a -5 ROI.
Quite hard to find a dark horse worth a bet here with Novak clearly on whole new level above everyone this year no matter the conditions and surface, but I do think that Zverev should at least make it to the SF with him.
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The 2nd and the 3rd seed Medvedev and Tsitsipas will most likely face for a place in the Gold Medal match.
Stefanos lost to Medvedev in Aussie Open SF back in February, so interesting matchup for sure in the cards if both are up to the challenge.
Stefanos is just 240 points behind Nadal to overtake him as the No.3 player in the world and the way he has performed on the US hard court swing last year with little to defend he has a really good chance to succeed in this quest.
Medvedev is dependent on the hard-court surface and he didn’t gained much on either clay or grass season to ease a bit on his huge upcoming drops in points. With 87% of his points coming on that surface is no surprise he must defend nearly 5000 points from now until the end of the year. With all that being said he is 13-2 on the year in that same surface regard,43-7 last 50 with a moderate +11.9% ROI.
Felix Auger has a real mouthwatering encounter with Andy Murray in the possibly best R1 matchup of them all.
Murray is still out of top 100 when he is still trying to get back to the form and tennis we all know he is capable of. Having multiple hip surgeries he is past his prime for sure but winning 2 Gold Medals from the Olympics may spark him for another run although all odds are stacked against him.
Felix on other hand is a 20-year-old up and comer already in top 20 while making continuous progress on the tour. He is 24-14 on the year with +8.1 ROI and has looked more and more impressive each time he steps on the court. His biggest downfall however is his inability to close tournaments as he is 0-8 in finals without winning a set.
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Following the expectations of many that Djokovic will continue to reign supreme on the tennis court in a season for the ages while I see Medvedev being the one contesting for the gold as he is just too good of a player on his favorite surface to choke on the Olympic Stage.