Rio 2016: Andy Murray, Jamie Murray, Jo Konta and Heather Watson into Olympic squad
Andy Murray and Johanna Konta have been named in Team GB's tennis squad for the Rio Olympics
With some standout tennis performances among Team GB’s medal haul in London 2012, there are high hopes again of success when the Olympics rolls into Rio in under two months’ time.
Few will forget Andy Murray turning tears from his Wimbledon runner-up performance to smiles as he won gold on the very same court a month later. And that was not all: He joined forces with a teenage Laura Robson to win silver in the mixed doubles.
If there was a surprise at the All England Club, aside from the normally sedate dark green livery turning bright pink for the duration, it was the first-round exit of Murray with his brother Jamie in the men’s doubles.
Now, with the 2016 Olympics in Rio getting under way in two months’ time, Andy Murray is readying for his singles title defence, and the team named today by the British Olympic Association (BOA) at Queen’s Club in London again includes his brother, who since 2012 has risen to No1 in the doubles rankings. With both men now ranked No2 respectively in singles and doubles, the duo will be one of the favourites for a medal after their Davis-Cup winning partnership of last year.
On the women’s side, Johanna Konta, who broke into the top 20 for the first time this week after an outstanding year that took her to the semis of the Australian Open, will make her Olympic debut. She is joined by Heather Watson, who reached the second round in London in 2012.
In addition, the BOA has nominated the youngest Briton in the top 100, Kyle Edmund, in the men’s singles, Dominic Inglot and Colin Fleming in the men’s doubles, and both Konta and Watson and Anna Smith and Jocelyn Rae in the women’s doubles. Their participation in these draws will be at the discretion of the ITF’s final Olympic qualification deliberations.
Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de mission for Rio said of the team selection: “I would like to congratulate all four of these athletes. There is invaluable Olympic experience in this squad with both Andy and Jamie selected for their third, and Heather for her second successive Olympic Games.
“Heather, I am sure, will lean on the experience from London 2012 and use that to her advantage. And it is brilliant to welcome Johanna into Team GB for the first time after a sensational year so far. It’s a very strong team.”
Iain Bates, Team GB’s tennis team leader, added: “The challenge for us having performed so successfully at a home Games in London will be to try and match that achievement at an away Games.”
Andy Murray missed the press conference as he recuperates from his outstanding clay run—a final finish at the Madrid Masters, a title at the Rome Masters and his first Roland Garros final. But he sent a message to his colleagues.
“Playing for Team GB during London 2012 gave me some of the best memories I have in sport. Being a home Olympic Games, it was such a special occasion and the atmosphere at Wimbledon was like nothing I have ever experienced.
“I watched Mo [Farah], Greg [Rutherford] and Jess [Ennis] win gold the night before my final and it definitely helped inspire me. Winning medals for your country is as good as it gets and I can’t wait to get to Rio to try and win more medals.”
His brother went on to add to a packed media room: “I’m very pleased to have made the cut for Rio and to play my third Games. Having won the Davis Cup last year for GB, there’s nothing better than representing your country—and to do it with someone from your family is a real bonus.”
Watson, who was still uncertain of qualification at the French Open, admitted: “I am very excited. I’ve worked really hard for this and it’s been the main goal for me this year. I had such a great experience at London 2012 and I can’t wait to have the opportunity again to represent my country and be part of the Olympic Games, which is a dream come true.”
For first-timer Konta, thrilled, she said, just to be wearing the Team GB kit for this announcement, it was clearly a great moment.
“It’s such an honour to have the rare opportunity to represent my country in an Olympic Games. I’m looking forward to doing my part for Team GB and supporting my team-mates across all the sports.”
Tennis is one of the first sports to get under way in Rio, in what is a very small window on the main tennis tour between two big Master/Premier events, the Rogers Cup in Canada and the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.
And some players who were eligible to play have opted in favour of the points and prize-money that come from the main tours, as the ITF no longer offers either at the Olympics. Among them are No7 Dominic Thiem, No17 John Isner, No19 Nick Kyrgios, No22 Feliciano Lopez and No23 Bernard Tomic.
Thus far, Caroline Wozniacki is also out of selection for failing to fulfil the Fed Cup requirements, and Maria Sharapova is out of competition for doping offences.
Additional top-56 ranked players will miss out because they play for a country blessed with too many top players. France is allowed to field only four of its top nine singles men, Spain four from 10. That, though, leaves a lot of leeway for lower-ranked players to make the cut for the 64-person singles draws amid the further six ITF qualification places and two Tripartite Commission Invitation places that complete the line-up in the 64-strong singles draws.
Key facts, figures and dates for Rio 2016
· Quotas for each nation: six men, six women; four may play in each singles draw, two teams may play in each doubles draw.
· Qualification Singles: Maximum of four per nation, 56 direct acceptances based on ranking, plus six ITF places and 2 Tripartite Commission Invitation places; ITF places take into account whether the host nation has a representative, previous gold medal or Grand Slam champions, and next best ranked player from any other unrepresented nation.
· Qualification Doubles: 32 teams, 24 direct acceptances, plus eight ITF places; direct acceptance is based on top-10 doubles ranking, plus 14 teams based on combined world rankings in singles or doubles; ITF places are as above for singles.
· Qualification mixed doubles: 16 teams, 12 direct acceptances, four ITF places; take account of singles and doubles rankings.
· Good standing: all athletes must be in ‘good standing’ with their National Association and the ITF, and meet the Davis Cup and Fed Cup eligibility rule.
16 June: NOCs confirm entry of eligible players
18 July: NOCs deadline to submit entry forms to Rio 2016 Organising Committee
4 August: Olympic tennis event draw
5 August: Opening Ceremony
6 August—14 August: Olympic tennis event
9 August: deadline for ITF to receive entries from NOCs into Mixed Doubles
12 August: Men’s Doubles medal matches
13 August: Women’s Singles medals matches
Men’s Singles bronze medal match
Women’s and Mixed Doubles bronze medal matches
14 August: Men’s Singles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles gold medal matches