London 2012: Tennis announces strongest ever Olympic field

The ITF announces one of its strongest ever fields of competitors for the London Olympics to be held at Wimbledon in July

Marianne Bevis
By Marianne Bevis
andy murray team gb
British No1 Andy Murray was Team GB's first pick for London 2012 Photo: Adidas

andy murray team gb

With exactly four weeks to go until Olympic tennis gets under way, the International Tennis Federation has announced one the strongest ever fields of competitors at the most iconic venue in its sport.

With Wimbledon in full swing, the news could not have been more timely, for the All England Club will welcome back the best players in the world—this time wearing their national colours rather than traditional white—to this very venue.

The field will be led by the current world No1s, Beijing bronze medallist Novak Djokovic for Serbia and Russia’s Maria Sharapova.

Only one gold medallist from Beijing 2008 will be unable to defend their title: The women’s singles champion, Elena Dementieva, has since retired. But the other champions, men’s singles Rafael Nadal, men’s doubles Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka and women’s doubles, Venus and Serena Williams, will all feature.

Indeed, 19 of the top 20 for each singles draw will play: Only Mardy Fish, men’s No12, and Marion Bartoli, women’s No9, are missing.

Each 64-player singles draw has 56 direct acceptances that are based on the singles world rankings on 11 June 2012. Players also have to comply with the qualification criteria of the ITF and the International Olympic Committee, which includes representing their countries in Davis or Fed Cup competition.

Each country can field up to four players in the singles competition, and with just nine countries strong enough to do so, a handful in particular jump off the page.

Spain and the USA have strength in both the men’s and women’s draw, although the former’s male quartet of No2 Nadal, No5 David Ferrer, No11 Nicolas Almagro and No16 Fernando Verdasco is a stand-out. Little wonder that Spain is the most successful Davis Cup squad of the last decade and defending champion.

They have very strong competition from France, though, led by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and backed by Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet—all top-20 players.

Another contender for medals must be Argentina, Davis Cup runners-up, with Juan Martin del Potro, Juan Monaco and David Nalbandian in the squad. Last but not least, Serbia may only have three men in the singles competition, but they comprise Djokovic, No8 Janko Tipsarevic and No34 Viktor Troicki.

On the women’s side, Fed Cup champions the Czech Republic, headed by reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, must be one of the favourites, but the German squad—a growing force in women’s tennis and seeking to emulate former gold medal winner Steffi Graf—will also hope for medals.

Nations are also able to nominate up to two doubles teams per event and, for the first time since 1924, mixed doubles will be included, too, with entries chosen from those players already participating in singles or doubles.

Tennis was one of the original sports in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, but after the 1924 Paris Games, tennis withdrew. It returned as a demonstration event in 1968 at Mexico City and 1984 in Los Angeles, and as a full medal sport in Seoul in 1988.

The first woman to win an Olympic medal in any sport was British tennis player Charlotte Cooper at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris and the task of trying repeat her achievement has been handed to Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha. In doubles, this week’s Wimbledon pairing of the young duo Heather Watson and Laura Robson will fly the flag.

On the men’s side, Andy Murray is a strong contender for a medal in the singles while this week’s No13 seeds Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins will compete in the doubles.

Keothavong summed up the impact of selection for the squad: “Every time I think of the Olympics, I’m just over the moon about the selection. It’s great that all four of us British girls have a chance to be part of the team. I have never been part of an Olympic team before…and the fact that it’s in London, I’m super pumped about it.”

Baltacha added: “11 years I have played at Fed Cup, and I just really wanted an opportunity to play at the Olympics…I just can’t explain to you how amazing it feels—all my hard work over so many years…everything has just been so, so worth it. I’m really honoured and privileged.”

Men’s singles

Argentina: Juan Martin del Potro, Juan Monaco, Carlos Berlocq, David Nalbandian
Australia: Bernard Tomic, Lleyton Hewitt
Austria: Jurgen Melzer
Belgium: Olivier Rochus, David Goffin, Steve Darcis
Brazil: Thomaz Bellucci
Bulgaria: Grigor Dimitrov
Canada: Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil
Chinese Taipei: Lu Yen-Hsun
Colombia: Santiago Giraldo, Alejandro Falla
Croatia: Marin Cilic, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Dodig
Cyprus: Marcos Baghdatis
Czech Republic: Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek
Finland: Jarkko Nieminen
France: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet
Germany: Philipp Kohlschreiber
Great Britain: Andy Murray
India: Somdev Devvarman
Italy: Andreas Seppi, Fabio Fognini
Japan: Kei Nishikori, Go Soeda, Tatsuma Ito
Kazakhstan: Mikhail Kukushkin
Luxembourg: Gilles Muller
Netherlands: Robin Haase
Poland: Lukasz Kubot
Romania: Adrian Ungur
Russia: Mikhail Youzhny, Alex Bogomolov Jr, Nikolay Davydenko, Dmitry Tursunov
Serbia: Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic, Viktor Troicki
Slovak Republic: Lukas Lacko, Martin Klizan
Slovenia: Blaz Kavcic
Spain: Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro, Fernando Verdasco
Switzerland: Roger Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka
Tunisia: Malek Jaziri
Ukraine: Sergiy Stakhovsky
USA: John Isner, Andy Roddick, Donald Young, Ryan Harrison
Uzbekistan: Denis Istomin

Women’s singles

Australia: Samantha Stosur
Belarus: Victoria Azarenka
Belgium: Yanina Wickmayer, Kim Clijsters
Bulgaria: Tsvetana Pironkova
Canada: Aleksandra Wozniak
China, PR: Li Na, Peng Shuai, Zheng Jie
Chinese Taipei: Hsieh Su-Wei
Croatia: Petra Martic
Czech Republic: Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Petra Cetkovska, Klara Zakopalova
Denmark: Caroline Wozniacki
Estonia: Kaia Kanepi
France: Alize Cornet
Georgia: Anna Tatishvili
Germany: Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki, Andrea Petkovic, Julia Goerges
Great Britain: Anne Keothavong, Elena Baltacha
Hungary: Agnes Szavay
Israel: Shahar Peer
Italy: Sara Errani, Flavia Pennetta, Roberta Vinci, Francesca Schiavone
Kazakhstan: Galina Voskoboeva, Yaroslava Shvedova
Liechtenstein: Stephanie Vogt
New Zealand: Marina Erakovic
Paraguay: Veronica Cepede Royg
Poland: Agnieszka Radwanska, Urszula Radwanska
Romania: Monica Niculescu, Simona Halep, Sorana Cirstea, Irina-Camelia Begu
Russia: Maria Sharapova, Vera Zvonareva, Maria Kirilenko, Nadia Petrova
Serbia: Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic
Slovak Republic: Dominika Cibulkova, Daniela Hantuchova
Slovenia: Polona Hercog
Spain: Anabel Medina Garrigues, Carla Suarez Navarro, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Silvia Soler-Espinosa
Sweden: Sofia Arvidsson
Switzerland: Timea Bacsinszky
Tunisia: Ons Jabeur
Ukraine: Alona Bondarenko, Kateryna Bondarenko
USA: Serena Williams, Christina McHale, Venus Williams, Varvara Lepchenko

Men’s doubles

Argentina: David Nalbandian/Eduardo Schwank
Austria: Jurgen Melzer/Alexander Peya
Belarus: Alexander Bury/Max Mirnyi
Brazil: Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares, Thomaz Bellucci/Andre Sa
Canada: Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil
Colombia: Juan Sebastian Cabal/Santiago Giraldo
Croatia: Marin Cilic/Ivan Dodig
Czech Republic: Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek
France: Michael Llodra/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Julien Benneteau/Richard Gasquet
Germany: Christopher Kas/Philipp Petzschner
Great Britain: Andy Murray/Jamie Murray, Colin Fleming/Ross Hutchins
India: Leander Paes/Vishnu Vardhan, Mahesh Bhupathi/Rohan Bopanna
Israel: Jonathan Erlich/Andy Ram
Italy: Daniele Bracciali/Andreas Seppi
Japan: Kei Nishikori/Go Soeda
Netherlands: Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer
Poland: Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski
Romania: Horia Tecau/Adrian Ungur
Russia: Nikolay Davydenko/Mikhail Youzhny
Serbia: Janko Tipsarevic/Nenad Zimonjic, Novak Djokovic/Victor Troicki
Slovak Republic: Martin Klizan/Lukas Lacko
Spain: Marcel Granollers/Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer/Feliciano Lopez
Sweden: Johan Brunstrom/Robert Lindstedt
Switzerland: Roger Federer/Stanislas Wawrinka
USA: Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan, John Isner/Andy Roddick

Women’s doubles

Argentina: Gisela Dulko/Paola Suarez
Australia: Jarmila Gajdosova/Anastasia Rodionova, Casey Dellacqua/Samantha Stosur
Canada: Stephanie Dubois/Aleksandra Wozniak
China, PR: Peng Shuai/Zheng Jie, Li Na/Zhang Shuai
Chinese Taipei: Chuang Chia-Jung/Hsieh Su-Wei
Czech Republic: Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka, Petra Cetkovska/Lucie Safarova
France: Alize Cornet/Kristina Mladenovic
Georgia: Margalita Chakhnashvili/Anna Tatishvili
Germany: Angelique Kerber/Sabine Lisicki, Julia Goerges/Andrea Petkovic
Great Britain: Laura Robson/Heather Watson
Hungary: Timea Babos/Agnes Szavay
India: Rushmi Chakravarthi/Sania Mirza
Italy: Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta/Francesca Schiavone
Kazakhstan: Yaroslava Shvedova/Galina Voskoboeva
Poland: Agnieszka Radwanska/Urszula Radwanska, Klaudia Jans-Ignacik/Alicja Rosolska
Romania: Irina-Camelia Begu/Monica Niculescu, Sorana Cirstea/Simona Halep
Russia: Maria Kirilenko/Nadia Petrova, Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina
Slovak Republic: Dominika Cibulkova/Daniela Hantuchova
Slovenia: Andreja Klepac/Katarina Srebotnik
Spain: Nuria Llagostera Vives/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Anabel Medina Garrigues/Arantxa Parra Santonja
Ukraine: Alona Bondarenko/Kateryna Bondarenko
USA: Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond, Serena Williams/Venus Williams

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