Picking contenders for the Olympic Gold in Tennis has always been a dicey affair.
As history would have it, a number of Grand Slam Champions have missed out on adding Olympic medals, in the Singles Category, to their otherwise impressive resumes. Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Marat Safin and Gustavo Kuerten are some of the former World No.1 players who failed to win an Olympic Singles medal in their illustrious careers.
Only three players in the draw at Rio – Novak Djokovic (Bronze, Beijing 2008), Andy Murray (Gold, London 2012) and Juan Martin Del Potro (Bronze, London 2012) – have won an Olympic medal before. This edition of Olympics has some interesting prospects on offer as far as Men’s Tennis is concerned. Owing to the sheer unpredictability of podium finishes in the past, it could result in new medalists with one favorite in the mix.
With less than 5 days for the much awaited Rio Olympics to kick-start, high profile pull outs in Men’s Tennis have been as a dampener for tennis aficionados and enthusiasts around the world. Last week Roger Federer delivered a shocker when he announced that he was done for the season and that he would be missing the Olympics also in lieu of longevity and ability to play competitive tennis with 100% fitness for the next few years.
Some of the other big names that will be missing in the Men’s Singles category are Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych. While Rafael Nadal may choose to not play Singles owing his frail left wrist, Raonic and Berdych based their decisions of skipping the prestigious event on the deadly Zika Virus.
The red hot Novak Djokovic and the Wimbledon 2016 Champion Andy Murray will take on a depleted field but the fresh brigade of next gen players will ensure that their Olympic outing is not a walk in the park.
Not only does the ATP season begin and end with the hard courts but it also involves a majority of the tournaments played on them. With the choice of surface at Rio being the fast hard courts, it would probably ensure a level playing field for all players.
5. Marin Cilic
Olympic Seeding: 10
The Croat won his maiden Grand Slam in 2014 at the US Open and has been fluctuating in form ever since. Coached by Goran Ivanisevic, a one Slam wonder, it remains to be seen if Cilic can go one better. Unlike Ivanisevic who won his sole Grand Slam at Wimbledon at the age of 29, Cilic has a couple of years ahead of him to give himself a few more chances of adding another Slam.
With a Quarter Final appearance at this year’s Wimbledon, Cilic proved that he is still a force to reckon with. The fast hard courts at Rio would be conducive for his booming serves and first strike tennis.
If he can bring to Rio the kind of tennis he played at the Flushing Meadows a couple of years ago, he can gun for the Olympic Gold. In the US Open 2014, he swept aside Roger Federer in the Semi Final and romped past Kei Nishikori in the Final without dropping a set. He can annihilate any opponent with his huge serves and barrage of ground strokes if he brings his ‘A’ game on that day.