The Olympic Games being postponed until 2021 has been good news for players that have been plagued by injury. Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Juan Martin Del Potro are all concentrating on the Tokyo Olympics.
As the coronavirus impacted the world of sport in 2020, the major casualty was the Tokyo Olympic games. Due to take place in the summer of 2020, the games had to move to 2021.
Novak Djokovic is likely to enter the event as World #1. The Serbian has struggled to medal at Olympic Games and his best placing was Bronze in the 2008 games in Beijing, where he was the third seed. Having lost out to Rafael Nadal in the semifinal, the Serbian then had to play off for the Bronze. Djokovic defeated American James Blake in straight sets to finish third.
Looking to go better in 2012 games in London, held on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon one month after the championships. Djokovic progressed through the field to the semi-final. Home favorite Andy Murray thrilled the crowd by defeating the Serbian in straight sets. Djokovic once again had to play off for the Bronze. Juan Martin Del Potro would be the opponent in the match. The Argentine defeated the Serbian to claim the medal.
Djokovic entered the Rio games the Serbian was again the top seed. The draw was made and his opponent was once again Argentine Del Potro. Just like in London, Del Potro defeated the Serbian, although it took two tiebreak sets, to end the run at the first round stage, meaning that the elusive Gold Medal was still out there.
Roger Federer has not yet won an Olympic gold medal in singles (teaming up with Stan Warwinka the Swiss pair claimed the doubles gold in Beijing.) At the 2008 games Federer was the top seed and faced American James Blake. The Swiss had been having a troubling year to this point, and hoped to turn things around in China. Unfortunately, Blake defeated Federer in the first round of the singles.
In London 2012 the Swiss was again the top seed and progressed through to the final. At Wimbledon, exactly one month to the date, he again faced Murray. However, and unusually for the Swiss, the crowd was in the majority for the Brit. Murray was unstoppable and defeated Federer in straight sets. Federer did not enter the Rio 2016 games due to concerns with the Zika virus. The singles is the only event that the Swiss maestro has yet to win, this would give him the golden career slam (has won all four grand slams and Olympic gold)
Having been injured early in the 2020 season, the Swiss planned on being back in time for the grass court season in June. However, a setback to his previous injury meant that Federer curtailed his season early and did not play another match until early 2021. The Swiss has confirmed that the Olympics is his major target for this coming year.
“Participation in the Olympics is part of my plan although my main goal was everything from today until Wimbledon, the tournament that precedes the Olympics,” Federer told beIN Sports. The Swiss hopes that his knee issues will be cleared up and he will be able to compete.
Andy Murray, the reigning double Olympic Gold Medallist, has had his fair share of injury problems. Since winning Olympic Gold in London & Rio, the US Open in 2012, Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016, and helping to guide Great Britain to the Davis Cup in 2015 it is fair to say the Brit has suffered.
In 2019 he announced that he would retire at Wimbledon, if he made it that far, as he was having major problems with his hip, to the point he was unable to put his socks and shoes on without pain. Having undergone in total two hip operations, with the second one being a resurfacing operation (the same as Bob Bryan underwent) Murray has started to try and come back to the circuit. The Coronavirus hit the schedule massively, as a result Murray has not played as much as he would have liked.
Speaking to Sportskeeda ,the Brit was asked what his biggest goal for the 2021 season was and Murray replied “This year, my main focus is the Olympics. I’m very proud of my gold medals, so it would be great to get the opportunity to defend those. I’m training hard to be in Tokyo for whatever format the Games ends up taking.”
If the Brit were to win the gold again, he would be the first male player to do so. It would also be an amazing result for Murray after thinking he would have to retire.
Juan Martin Del Potro
Juan Martin Del Potro is also targeting the games this year. The Argentine has been through three knee operations in less than two years. Del Potro will be aiming to go one better than Rio and collect the set, having already got the Bronze in London, and the Silver in Rio.
The Argentine has not yet fully recovered from his surgeries and injury, however Del Potro feels the pull of the Olympics and the missing part of his collection. The former world number 3 and Grand Slam champion has his sights set on Japan.
Speaking at an event in Buenos Aires Del Potro told the press, “The Olympic Games are pulling me along, that is the motivation that I have.”
With the Tokyo Olympics going ahead in some format, this is exciting news for tennis. However, the biggest challenge to all three of these players will be the Serbian. Djokovic will be desperate to upgrade from the Bronze medal of 2008, being the only success he has had at Olympic events. Can the World #1 finally claim the Gold Medal? Can Federer obtain the one thing missing from his trophy cabinet? Will Murray make more history? Time will tell.
Main Photo from Getty.