Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2020 Tokyo Olympics tennis tournament.
Welcome to Tokyo for the tennis tournament of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
It’s an event (the Olympics as well as its tennis event all the same) that in all likelihood probably shouldn’t happen at all given that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. But since the sporting world has decided to turn a blind eye toward COVID-19, it’s not surprising that the International Olympic Committee reached the same conclusion. Money talks and, these days, money trumps all. Checking out BetMGM continues to make tennis interesting to follow.
What does it mean to win the Olympics?
So welcome to the Summer Olympics. That’s a big deal, right? Winning the Olympics? Well, it depends who you ask. If you’re a tennis professional competing at the event, then undeniably the Olympics are probably the highlight of your year, if not career. You get to compete in the name of your home country and, really, what’s more prestigious than this?
But if you’re asking fans or pundits what the Olympics mean, then you’re likely to be disappointed with the answer. Because the truth is that for all of the prestige that comes with competing, and maybe even winning, this event that happens every four years, it doesn’t do all that much for a player’s legacy.
Throughout the history of the IOC, there have only been 13 and 15 tennis tournaments, respectively, on the women’s and men’s sides. If the names of previous women winners are fairly prestigious, it’s quite the opposite for men. Because for every Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal with a gold medal around their neck, we see Nicolas Massu, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marc Rosset with the same distinction.
Though maybe there’s a reason after all behind the men’s tennis tournament at the Summer Olympics. It’s that this is the one place where Andy Murray has the upper hand over the Big Three of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
The women’s draw is pretty, pretty good. We have a few different major tentpoles spread out across the four sections, but each of them should see their fair share of challenges if they intend to go far. If things break right, we anticipate a little bit of everything: the better players should go far, but not all of them because there will be surprises. And there should be some surprising medalists.
Quarterfinals: Jessica Pegula over Ashleigh Barty; Garbine Muguruza over Aryna Sabalenka; Jennifer Brady over Elina Svitolina; Naomi Osaka over Iga Swiatek
Semifinals: Garbine Muguruza over Jessica Pegula; Naomi Osaka over Jennifer Brady
Bronze medal: Jennifer Brady
Silver medal: Garbine Muguruza
Gold medal: Naomi Osaka
At this point, all eyes will understandably be on Novak Djokovic every time he steps on a tennis court. He’s also been forthcoming about his plan of wanting to win the remaining two big prizes on the 2021 tennis calendar. This starts this week in Tokyo for the Olympics. Win or lose, he would then set his sights on the US Open next month.
But here’s the thing. As a Djokovic fan, we sort of, maybe kind of hope and wish that the Serb would focus on Flushing Meadows exclusively? That’s where we’re at, really. Winning a gold medal would undoubtedly be a career highlight for him personally. But in the grand scheme of things, a 21st career Grand Slam is the knockout punch that Nadal and Federer fans fear so much.
Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic over Andrey Rublev; Aslan Karatsev over Lorenzo Sonego; Karen Khachanov over Frances Tiafoe; Daniil Medvedev over Felix Auger-Aliassime
Semifinals: Novak Djokovic over Aslan Karatsev; Daniil Medvedev over Karen Khachanov
Bronze medal: Aslan Karatsev
Silver medal: Novak Djokovic
Gold medal: Daniil Medvedev
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG