Five thoughts on the Olympic draws:
Tough tasks for Murray and Djokovic. Andy Murray has been hitting with good friend Stanislas Wawrinka at Wimbledon this week, so perhaps he will be better prepared than he would otherwise have been to face this Swiss when they meet in the opening round of the Olympic tennis event at Wimbledon. Murray leads their head to head 6-4, and won their only encounter on grass here at Wimbledon in 2009. But the Swiss famously upset the Scot at the US Open in 2010, so it’s by no means an easy ask. Also in Murray’s part of the draw are Marcos Baghdatis, Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych, while he is seeded to meet Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. As for Djokovic, after opening against Fabio Fognini, he could run into Andy Roddick, then Marin Cilic, and then Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Milos Raonic, making his path to gold a little unforeseeable.
Meanwhile for Federer… As seems to be the way at Wimbledon, and in the absence of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer has the more charmed half of the draw. The world No.1 and Wimbledon champion opens against Alejandro Falla, who came so close and yet so far to upsetting the Swiss here at SW19 two years ago. The winner will play either Julien Benneteau, another Federer nearly-beater, or Mikhail Youzhny, with future threats likely to be Fernando Verdasco, John Isner or Janko Tipsarevic. Federer’s semi-final opponent, should he make it, is seeded to be David Ferrer or Juan Martin Del Potro.
What about the women? Headlined by re-invested world No.1 Victoria Azarenka at one end, who meets Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, and world No.2 Agnieszka Radwanska, who will face German Julia Goerges, at the other end, the name to watch in the women’s draw is of course Wimbledon champ Serena Williams, who takes on Jelena Jankovic in the first round. The fourth seed, Serena is in Azarenka’s half of the draw, and has the likes of Vera Zvonareva, Li Na, and Caroline Wozniacki seeded in her section. In the bottom half, Maria Sharapova, who begins against Shahar Peer, is in line for another meeting with Sabine Lisicki, this time in the third round. For those on Brit-watch, Heather Watson faces Silvia Soler Espinosa in the fourth quarter, Radwanska’s section, Anne Keothavong meets Caroline Wozniacki in the second quarter, and Elena Baltacha has Agnes Szavay in the third quarter, with Ana Ivanovic and Kim Clijsters looming.
In the men’s doubles… Top seeds the Bryan brothers, who take on Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa in the first round, have defending champions Federer and Wawinka in their section, who are seeded sixth, with Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic, the third seeds, also in their half. In the other half, the second seeds are Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, with Polish duo Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski credible medal threats too. For the two British pairs, things could get tricky. Andy and Jamie Murray kick off against Jurgen Melzer and Alex Peya of Austria, with the Poles potentially next up. Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins open against France’s Benneteau and Gasquet. Dark horses for the title? John Isner and Andy Roddick. Maybe.
In the ladies’ doubles… Top seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond have been handed the tournament’s one and only bye following the withdrawal of the Bondarenko sisters, and they’ll be delighted to find themselves on the opposite half of the draw from Wimbledon champions the Williams sisters, who kick off against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea and Simona Halep. If they come through that one, they could have a fan-pleasing second round match against Laura Robson and Heather Watson. But to do so, the Brits will have to beat fifth seeds, Germany’s Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki. Tough. Britain’s other duo, Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha, are up in the top half of the draw, kicking off against Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Gronefeld of Germany. Buckle up.