Since rejoining the Olympics in 1988, no player has won gold more than once in men’s singles, and only one player has more than one medal. The odds-on favorite this year, Novak Djokovic, will be looking to continue the trend of new gold medal winners when the tournament gets underway on Saturday, August 6.
Unfortunately, Roger Federer will have to wait to add his name to that list of gold medal winners, as he has pulled out of the Olympics due to a knee injury. The announcement marks yet another household name that will not be participating in Rio. Fortunately for Brazil, Federer is one of few athletes who has not cited the state of the host country as the motivating factor of their decision.
Federer was not the only men’s tennis player to pull out of Rio though, as Canadian Milos Raonic has also removed his name from the tournament. Raonic has blamed the Zika virus for his withdrawal.
Although their odds of winning gold may have been slim, you can also add Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet to the list of players who will not be participating.
Without Roger Federer and Milos Raonic in the draw, the field becomes slightly watered down, as now four names stand out from the rest. Two of those names, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, have already won a gold medal, while Novak Djokovic has never achieved more than a bronze, and Stan Wawrinka has yet to medal.
Here are the odds for those four players, as well as the rest of the field, to win gold in men’s singles tennis at the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro:
This should come as no surprise, as Djokovic has been heavily favorite in just about every event he has played in over the last couple of years. The world’s number one ranked player has lost in the semifinals of the last two Olympic games, and in London 2012 he also lost in the bronze medal match.
The dispersion of the gold medal in this event should grab the attention of the Serbian, since it signifies the short-lived prime of a male tennis player. Without Federer present, and Nadal fading, Djokovic may never have a better opportunity to win a gold medal.
In the London 2012 Olympic games, Murray was presented with a phenomenal opportunity: win a gold medal for your country, in front of your country. As I mentioned earlier, Murray seized the opportunity, and is the defending gold medallist, as well as the winner of the most recent Grand Slam title: Wimbledon. Another great feat for the Brit, is being the only man to win an Olympic gold medal and the US Open in the same calendar year.
Despite having to deal with two of the best tennis has seen in their prime, Federer and Djokovic, Andy Murray has carved out a very successful career thus far. But, he won’t bask in his accomplishments; instead, he’ll try to add the honor of being the first man to ever win more than one gold medal in men’s singles.
Nadal won gold in Beijing 2008, defeating Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, before making quick work of Fernando Gonzalez in the gold medal match. Unfortunately, Nadal could not even attempt to defend his gold medal in London 2012, as he had to withdraw due to a knee injury.
The Spaniard is still is dealing with injuries, this time to his wrist, but was adamant about competing in Rio. Although Nadal is not the same player he once was, the recent withdrawals give him a very good chance to at least take home one of the three medals.
Although it may not be in men’s singles, Wawrinka does have a gold medal to his name, as he teamed up with Roger Federer to win the men’s doubles in 2008. Wawrinka did not qualify for the 2012 singles event, and in 2008 he did not make it beyond the second round.
However, with a couple of big names absent, this may be the best chance Wawrinka ever has to add a singles medal to his resume.
Kei Nishikori (Japan): 25/1
Gael Monfils (France): 45/1
Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina): 50/1
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France): 50/1
Marin Cilic (Croatia): 60/1
Pick: Novak Djokovic (10/11) – His early exit in Wimbledon will serve as motivation, and he’ll continue the trend of new gold medal winners in men’s singles tennis.
(Photo Credit: Marianne Bevis (Flickr – London 2012: tennis) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/])
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