Novak Djokovic has been named the top seed for the tennis event at the Tokyo Olympics 2021. And needless to say, the Serb will be keen to finally win the only major accolade missing from his CV - a gold medal at the Games.
It is pertinent to note, however, that nearly half of the men's top 50 have chosen to sit out of the Games this time. That, in effect, means that many players have received a seeding much higher than their ranking.
The men's top 16 seeds are listed in the tweet below:
As things stand, Djokovic, Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Zverev have a quarter to themselves and would thus be favored to reach the semifinals. That said, the top 4 seeds would have to be wary of a few unseeded players who could be real threats if they are on their game.
The Olympics has historically seen a lot of upsets at the tennis event. Top players often struggle to retain their edge over their lower-ranked counterparts, who tend to play their best tennis while representing their country. Perhaps no one knows that better than Novak Djokovic himself; the Serb has had an upset-filled, love-hate relationship with the Games.
Also Checkout: Tokyo Olympics 2021 Schedule
On that note, here's a look at five of the most dangerous floaters or unseeded players who could possibly wreak havoc with the men's draw in Tokyo:
#5 Alexander Bublik (Kazakhstan)
Alexander Bublik, ranked No. 40 in the world, had a great start to his 2021 season. Bublik reached the finals in Antalya and Singapore early on, before making the last eight at the Miami Masters.
While the youngster wasn't able to carry his momentum to the clay and grass swings, he would be keen to hit top gear while representing Kazakhstan in Tokyo.
Bublik made his country proud a few weeks ago at Roland Garros, as he reached his maiden Grand Slam doubles final (partnering fellow Kazakh Andrey Golubev). The 24-year-old occasionally struggles to find the motivation to play his best, but national pride could light a fire in him.
Bublik possesses one of the biggest serves in tennis right now, which will likely earn him rich rewards on the fast hardcourts of Tokyo. The Kazakh would also look to surprise his opponents with his unpredictable groundstrokes and drop shots; it goes without saying that no top player would want to see Bublik early in the draw.
#4 Kei Nishikori (Japan)
Kei Nishikori is one of the most accomplished hardcourters on tour right now. He also happens to be the only active player besides Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to have tasted medal glory at the Olympics.
The Japanese beat two-time gold medalist Rafael Nadal at the 2016 Rio Games despite being the heavy underdog, which won him a bronze medal.
Nishikori enters the Tokyo Olympics on the back of a mediocre 2021 season, which has seen him accumulate a 15-13 win-loss record. But the Japanese had been a top player for several years prior to a serious elbow injury, and he has shown glimpses of that pedigree this season too.
Nishikori might also have extra motivation to do well given that the Games are being hosted in his home country. Incidentally, the 31-year-old won the Japan Open twice (2012 and 2014) when the tournament was held at the Ariake Tennis Park - the same place where the Olympics tennis event will take place.
#3 Marin Cilic (Croatia)
Although Marin Cilic has been in a slump over the last few years, he did give World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev a scare when the two met at Wimbledon earlier this month. Cilic played with a reinvigorated mindset as he raced to a two-sets-to-love lead on the back of some powerful serves and groundstrokes. And even though the Croat wasn't able to win, that performance would have given him a lot of confidence.
Cilic, who hasn't gone past the Round of 16 in his three appearances at the Olympics, could cause an upset or two in Tokyo if he plays to his potential. The 32-year-old has an erratic game, but when he is in the zone he can outhit pretty much any player in the world.
Cilic is also bidding to become the first Croatian player to win a medal at the Olympics since former Wimbledon champ Goran Ivanisevic.
#2 Lorenzo Musetti (Italy)
Lorenzo Musetti has given a lot of evidence of his irresistible talent already this season, and we're only halfway into it. The Italian has one of the biggest single-handed backhands in the game, with which he is capable of both mixing up the play and producing some spectacular winners.
Back in March, Musetti made an inspiring run to the semifinals of the Acapulco Open, where he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 19-year-old then gave a good account of himself over the next few months, recording his second career semifinal at Lyon before catching fire at Roland Garros.
In his first ever Grand Slam main draw, Musetti played out of his skin to reach the second week, where he met Novak Djokovic. The teenager got off to a scintillating start as he took the first two sets against the World No. 1, controlling the play with his powerful yet precise groundstrokes.
Musetti's inexperience eventually caught up to him as he dropped the next two sets tamely before retiring in the fifth. But the Italian has shown that he can stay with the best of the best, and he could possibly make life difficult for the top players in Tokyo.
#1 Andy Murray (Great Britain)
Andy Murray is the only player in the history of the Olympics to have won two singles gold medals. The Brit won both the 2012 and the 2016 Olympics singles events in dominant fashion, and that makes him a dangerous customer at the 2021 Games too.
Murray has had to endure some serious hardships in recent years though. The 34-year-old rose to the No. 1 ranking at the end of 2016, but his career was derailed soon after that by a chronic hip injury.
Although Murray's game is less effective now due to his physical issues, the three-time Major champion believes he can still compete with the world's best players.
Murray's claim might be put to the test right from the beginning of the event, as he would be unseeded and could very well end up facing a top player early on. But as his recent third-round appearance at Wimbledon showed, the Brit can still outmaneuver his opponents with his court craft and variety.
Also Read: Tokyo Olympic Tennis Schedule