One of the first sports to get underway in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is the tennis and the men’s tournament begins on Saturday out in Japan. Despite some high profile withdrawals and issues with Covid-19 a decent field of 64 head to the Ariake Tennis Park all eyeing up the gold medal.
Andy Murray overcame Juan Martin del Potro in an epic final in Rio de Janeiro five years ago to win his second successive gold medal and he is in the field looking to win the title for the third time in succession. He’ll take on a decent field.
2016 – Andy Murray
2012 – Andy Murray
2008 – Rafael Nadal
2004 – Nicolas Massu
2000 – Yevgeny Kafelnikov
1996 – Andre Agassi
1992 – Marc Rosset
1988 – Miloslav Mecir
This is a straight knockout tournament right from the start. There was a limit to the number of players a country could send so the field is different to the ones we might see in a Grand Slam or a Masters Series tournament. All matches are the best of three sets which this time includes the final which is a change to the best of five sets the gold medal match has been in the past. Tie-breaks are in operation in all sets including the deciding one much like a regular tour event.
He has never won this title but Novak Djokovic will start out as the number one seed and the emphatic favourite to get the gold medal around his neck for the first time. He is still on for the ‘Golden Slam’ of the four Grand Slams and this title, which would be unprecedented. The other three seeds in this quarter looking to deny him that accolade are Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, the newly married Gael Monfils and the Russian star Andrey Rublev who was a dark horse for this title in the eyes of many until he landed himself in this section.
The field does feel particularly strong this year and with just 16 seeds in the competition there will be some big names and household attractions who are unseeded. In this quarter the home superstar Kei Nishikori is one of them. He’d have been the recipient of plenty of crowd support in a normal Games but sadly nothing is normal about the world right now. Jan-Lennard Struff, John Millman and Mikhail Kukushkin are some of the others who might catch the eye.
The US Open finalist from 2020, Alexander Zverev, is the leading seed in the second quarter this week. He will look to progress to a first Olympic medal in conditions which should suit him well. The three seeds in this quarter who will be looking to deny him the chance to play for a medal are Lorenzo Sonego, the man who took the Australian Open by storm in Aslan Karatsev and the Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz who arrives in Tokyo in pretty decent form.
This is a slightly weaker section of the draw for the unseeded players with not many of them known or household names. Marton Fucsovics made a name for himself by reaching the Wimbledon quarter finals while the home player Taro Daniel certainly isn’t going to lack for motivation in this section. There is also a British interest in this quarter with Liam Broady one of the players looking to make progress in it.
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The French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas arrives in Tokyo as one of the leading contenders and the fancy of plenty to snatch the gold medal. He is the headline attraction in the third quarter with the Argentine ace Diego Schwartzman the man he is expected to have to face to seal the chance to battle it out for the medals. There are two other seeds in this quarter and they are the recent Halle champion Ugo Humbert and Karen Khachanov who recently took Denis Shapovalov the distance in an excellent Wimbledon quarter final.
There are a few players in this quarter with a genuine chance of causing an upset or two along the way. They include the home player Yoshihito Nishioka as well as Miomir Kecmanovic. Perhaps the biggest two in this category though are Frances Tiafoe, the man who defeated Tsitsipas at Wimbledon, and Philipp Kohlschreiber who is most likely competing in his final Olympic Games and will want to make a mark.
The Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev is the number two seed at these Olympic Games and he is the main draw in the bottom quarter of the competition. He probably looks at his draw and fancies his chances but there are three other seeds who will all be out to get the better of him. They are Pablo Carreno Busta, who is the potential quarter final opponent of the Russian, Felix Auger-Aliassime, the Canadian star tasting the Olympics for the first time, and Fabio Fognini who is a veteran in this sort of thing.
Among the unseeded players in this quarter two names absolutely fly off the page at us. The first of those is the two-time defending champion Andy Murray who has landed a nightmare first round draw against Auger-Aliassime, and the former US Open champion Marin Cilic who is still capable of doing some damage. Alexander Bublik, Gilles Simon and the home player Yuichi Sugita are other players hoping to cause an upset.
I’m not going to go too mad in the outright markets in any of the Olympic events because the threat of Covid-19 hangs over these games too much but I’ll have a couple of interest bets here with the first of those being on Diego Schwartzman who is underrated on a hard court. He has made the quarter finals of the US Open twice and the quarter final of the Paris Masters at the end of last year and the fourth round of the Miami Open earlier this year. There is a lot of talk that the courts are playing slow though so maybe a clay court specialist is the one to be on. Schwartzman ticks that box having made the last eight of the French Open in three of the last four years. Another thing to take into account is the heat in this part of the world. That isn’t likely to discomfort Schwartzman too much so he ticks a lot of boxes. There has been a South American medallist in every Olympics since Sydney and Schwartzman can add to that list.
In the quarter betting there aren’t many players coming to the Olympics in the sort of form that Hubert Hurkacz is in and as a result I like the Miami Open champion to win the second quarter. I like Hurkacz. He has a big serve and he isn’t afraid to come to the net early and end the points which is something that could be very useful in this tournament where the heat will zap the energy. Conditions here are going to be very similar to the ones he won in at the Miami Open and we shouldn’t forget that he is a quarter finalist in Indian Wells so the humid conditions shouldn’t beat him. Alexander Zverev is the danger in the quarter but unless Aslan Karatsev has his Australian Open form with him, there isn’t a whole lot more to beat in this section. It might be that his biggest danger comes in the first round against Marton Fucsovics. If he comes through that he’ll be a big runner to win the quarter at 13/2.
Back D.Schwartzman to win Gold Medal (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 51.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-3)
Back him here:
Back H.Hurkacz to win 2nd Quarter for a 1/10 stake at 8.50 with Bet365