Going by the history of the men’s singles at the Olympics, predicting the outcome of this one is not easy. If we take into account the last three Olympics, out of the total 9 medals, only 3 were won by a player already having a grand-slam title to his name.
What is more surprising is that players like Roger Federer and Andy Murray are still without an Olympics singles medal. Even more interesting is the success of some of the “lesser” known players be it Arnaud Di Pasquale in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, who defeated a young Roger Federer in the bronze medal playoff, or the success of the Chileans Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonsalez , Olympics has always been full of surprises. Nicolas Massu of Chile won the Olympics gold in 2004, defeating American Mardy Fish. Fellow countryman, Fernando Gonsalez won the bronze medal in the same games and followed it up with silver in the 2008, Beijing Olympics.
If we go a little more down the memory lane, our very own Leander Paes, ranked 120-odd in the world in 1996, won an unexpected bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympics.
Tennis at the 2012 Olympics will be played on the lush green grass courts of the Wimbledon. A total of 64 players from 34 countries will be competing in the men’s singles event. Out of the 64 players, 56 gained a direct entry, based on the ranking till 21st June. The remaining 8 places were awarded through wildcards. A maximum of 4 players per country are allowed to compete.
After the withdrawal of the Defending Champion, Rafael Nadal players like Roger Federer(Defending Doubles Champion), Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are clear favourites for the singles gold. Apart from them Argentine Juan Martin Del Porto, Frenchmen Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, and Spaniard David Ferrer have a decent chance of winning a medal. Other players to watch out will be Canadian Milos Raonic, Australian Bernard Tomic and Czech Tomas Berdych.
Talking of India’s chances, the burden of the whole nation would rest on the shoulders of Somdev Devvarman. He was awarded a wild card from the ITF and will be the first Indian to represent the country in the men’s singles draw after Leander Paes heroics in 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The two-time NCAA champion, is recovering from a shoulder injury and has not played a single professional match this year. So coming into the Olympics with no match practice could be a little tricky. But we can expect a decent showing from him. Somdev has shown earlier that when he plays for the country, rankings don’t matter to him. He defeated Uzbek Denis Istomin(ranked 40-odd in the world) in the finals of the Asian Games in 2010 .He even defeated a higher ranked Janko Tipsarevic in the Davis Cup World Group Round 1 match in Serbia last year.
So it would be interesting to see whether the top guns live up to their billing or the Olympics games in London will spring up another surprise.