Olympic tennis seed reports
Roger Federer, Serena Williams are favorites despite never winning singles gold
Watch out for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Sabine Lisicki to play the role of spoilers
Two American sibling duos, Williamses and Bryans, are favorites to win doubles
Greatest U.S. moments in the Summer Olympics
Athletes and celebs with the Olympic torch
Summer Olympians before they were stars
How Olympic fashion has changed over the years
U.S. athletes to watch in the London Games
Summer Olympians who are set to become stars
1. Roger Federer (SUI): For all his achievements, Federer has never won an Olympic medal in singles. Says that ends here. Starts out against Alejandro Falla -- who would have beaten Federer in the first round of Wimbledon 2010 had it been best-of-three. John Isner looms too.
2. Novak Djokovic (SRB): Weirdly, the betting lines have him ahead of Federer. He could be fresher mentally and physically, but he takes a backseat to none when it comes to representing his country. Andy Roddick in round two will be an early test.
3. Andy Murray (GBR): What will Wimbledon be like without the insane pressure and wall-to-wall scrutiny. This really impressed me. A bit of PR? Perhaps. But it suggests that he may have won over the British public and that he'll bounce back just fine. Starts out against Stan Wawrinka.
4. David Ferrer (ESP): You have to admire the work ethic. You admire the persistence during matches. Improving on grass. Nice draw, should have a relatively easy first two rounds. But he's not quite there yet.
5. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA): A good chance to spoil the party, despite a tougher draw that has big-serving Milos Raonic in the second round. But the best-of-three format helps a player prone to some mental "walkabouts." Look for him to meet Djokovic in the quarters.
6. Tomas Berdych (CZE): See above. A Wimbledon finalist in 2010, the lanky Berdych, so incorrigibly erratic, is due for a strong result.
7. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB): Seems to have settled in a place where he's embedded in the top ten but not competing seriously at the biggest events. Gets crafty veteran David Nalbandian in the first round.
8. Juan Martin del Potro (ARG): As is the case with so many tall players, the surface ultimately works to his detriment but the forehand always makes him dangerous.
9. Juan Monaco (ARG): Kudos on cracking the top 10 for a career-high ranking. But this is not a guy to win six matches on grass.
10. John Isner (USA): Big wild card here. Lots of "beta" as they say in the investment world. He could lose his first match. He could win a medal. And neither would surprise.
11. Nicolas Almagro (ESP): Apart from the surface, his record against the top six is 1-34.
12. Gilles Simon (FRA): On plus side, the absence of prize money -- for either gender -- should keep him out of trouble!
13. Marin Cilic (CRO): Another big-serving wild card. Showed improved movement at Wimbledon. But the low bounces will eventually catch up with him.
14. Fernando Verdasco (ESP): Gets Denis Istomin in the first round. Ironically, Feliciano Lopez -- who only made the team after Rafael Nadal's withdrawal -- is the best of the Spanish grasscourters.
15. Kei Nishikori (JPN): Due for a big win. You fear he's becoming a quantity over quality guy. Squarely in the top 20 but no big wins since knocking off Tsonga in Melbourne. Starts his Olympic bid against Bernard Tomic.
16. Richard Gasquet (FRA): Has had some success at Wimbledon in the past and his sheer talent always makes him dangerous for a day. But not exactly a lover of pressure -- and this event is filled with it.
Andy Roddick: Inasmuch as a former No. 1 can be a dark horse, Roddick's track record at Wimbledon plus his form in Atlanta and on grass at Eastbourne ought to inspire some optimism. Tough draw to get Djokovic in the second.
Bernard Tomic: Too good to stay down much longer.
Murray-Wawrinka: Murray ought to win, but he'll get an early test against the reigning doubles gold medalist.
Tomic-Nishikori: Two future top tenners.
Rochus-Isner: If only for the physical contrast.
None to speak of that are of Rosol-def.-Nadal level.
Bryan-Bryan: The California twins have the good fortune of playing together year-round, unlike so many other teams. Preemptive: Federer-Wawrinka, the defending champs, intrigue as well and they're in the twins' quarter. But the combination of Federer's singles ambitions and Wawrinka's play at Davis Cup might be cause for concern?
Gold: Roger Federer
Silver: Novak Djokovic
Bronze: Andy Murray
1. Victoria Azarenka (BLR): A worthwhile top seed. The big question still in need of answering: Can she stare down Serena Williams in a big moment? We could find out in the semifinals.
2. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL): Coming off the Wimbledon final, you have to think that she has a real shot of leaving with a medal. If she lost her first match to Julia Goerges, though, it wouldn't be a shock.
3. Maria Sharapova (RUS): Didn't build on French Open title but here's a chance to get back in the conversation. If she gets by Lisicki (which she didn't at Wimbledon) in the third round, she'll be in business.
4. Serena Williams (USA): Between her track record in the Olympics and her recent form at Wimbledon, it would be a considerable upset if she didn't win gold, especially given her draw. No pressure or anything.
5. Samantha Stosur (AUS): Just never has figured out how to excel on grass. And now it's in her head.
6. Petra Kvitova (CZE): Such an enigmatic player. She can win gold, much as she won Wimbledon in 2011. And she can just sort of evaporate quietly, as she has tended to do in the latter rounds of majors this year.
7. Angelique Kerber (GER): First, props for shaving more than 100 slots from her ranking over the last year. Strong Wimbledon but she's still more of a dangerous floater than a legit contender.
8. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN): Eventually the slump has to stop and she must return to winning titles. Right? Maybe?
9. Sara Errani (ITA): In her last match on grass, she was given the business end of a golden set. And she draws Venus first.
10. Li Na (CHN): Your guess is as good as anyone's. Including her's.
11. Ana Ivanovic (SRB): Without even mentioning Adam Scott, she seems, sadly, to have plateaued as an 11-15 player.
12. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK): Coming off a title in San Diego, but the grass exposes her deficit of power. And she starts versus Pironkova, who's dangerous on grass.
13. Vera Zvonareva (RUS): A former Wimbledon finalist who could face Francesca Schiavone in the second and Serena in the third. Also a player in decline.
14. Maria Kirilenko (RUS): An intriguing player, coming off a strong Wimbledon. One to watch in both singles and doubles.
15. Sabine Lisicki (GER): Turning into the Isner of the men's game. Results can be scattered but the serve makes her dangerous, especially on grass.
16. Nadia Petrova (RUS): Nice to see the Russian mount a mini comeback. Always had lots of talent and athleticism and could never quite put it together.
Venus Williams: Not on recent form, but as a nod to her past success on grass.
Kim Clijsters: Realistically, she's neither in form nor fully healthy, and she has never won Wimbledon. But any four-time major winner has to be considered dangerous at the least.
Yaroslava Shvedova: Athletic player, fresh from a nice run on grass, who plays well in big events.
Tsvetana Prinkova: A marginal player, except on grass, where she becomes a world beater.
Venus def. Errani
Pironkova-Cibulkova: Streakiness factory.
Ivanovic-Christina McHale: A defensive struggle.
Radwanska-Goerges: Dangerous match for the second seed.
Williams-Williams: Has an unseeded entry ever been such a runaway favorite?
Gold: Serena Williams
Silver: Sabine Lisicki
Bronze: Victoria Azarenka
Is there any prize money at all involved with the Olympic tennis event? Curious. I know there are three medals given per event. And when I look at the past results it seems they also gave two bronze medals and skipped the bronze medal match. Then in more recent years, there is an undisputed bronze medal winner. It's interesting to see a professional game played at a world sporting event where the customs aren't the same as they are at every other stop on the tour.
-- John Neubauer, Chicago, Ill.
Yes and no. Some players might get paid from their federations and some might get financial rewards from their own countries in the event they win a medal. Others are given enough perks and in-kind compensation (like $20,000 in air travel if you're from one well-heeled federation.) But there is no purse or conventional prize money.
A few of you asked this: There are no scheduling traditions either. It's not as if the defending champions (both of whom are absent by the way) christen play or start on Centre Court or anything like that. Consider this a conventional tournament in terms of who plays where and when. But bear in mind: most players are also competing in doubles.
Jon, for the second year in a row, Sports Illustrated magazine has no coverage of the Wimbledon finals. Last year it was a Serbian and a German winning, so I could understand. This year it is Federer and Serena, two GOAT candidates and the latter is an American. What is going on?
-- Chris Au, Hong Kong
I try to be candid and still hang on to my job. Here's the scoop: Both the sports calendar and the SI calendar work to tennis' detriment. The Australian Open usually ends the week prior to the Super Bowl. Serena Williams could play 14 golden sets and she wouldn't likely make the cover, not when the biggest American event of the year looms. The French is a bit better but it ends the week of the NBA finals. The U.S. Open usually ends the first week of the NFL season. Again, little chance for a cover.
As for Wimbledon, in each of the last two years, it has ended during the week of the (unfailingly excellent) Where Are They Now? double issue. Editors made what is, I think, a wise decision that a story about the tournament would feel stale if it arrived in your mailbox and on newsstands a full 10 days after the last ball was struck. Instead -- as was the case last year -- we covered the heck out of the event online. Here's a terrific piece on Federer my colleague S.L. Price wrote shortly after the final.
This is perhaps more of a, "inside-the-sausage-factory" answer than you'd wanted, but suffice to say there is a reason Wimbledon wasn't in your magazine. It had nothing to do with the identity of the champs or their countries of origin. And if nothing else, in a few years when the dates get pushed back a week, you can expect to see it back in your magazine.
Jon ... I find it annoying every time Tiger vs Federer comparison is done. To me, when you are playing seven rounds of KO to win an event is completely different than playing 4 rounds and posting the lowest total score. Another stat that golf fans tend to forget is Tiger has NEVER won from behind starting the final round. All 14 of his majors have come from going into the final round with a lead! So, IMHO, even if I consider golf a true sport, a tennis major win and Roger's records are far superior than Tiger's.
-- Subhadeep, Cincinnati
Devil's advocacy: The winner of a golf Major has to outperform the entire field directly; not simply the seven guys placed before him. (Speaking of devil's advocacy, what do you suppose Mr. Mephistopheles would charge for a billable hour?)
But I think you raise an issue that is totally underrated. In tennis, you lose, you go home. You can't make up for a lousy Thursday round on Friday, and still make the cut. That make Federer's streaks all the more admirable. Eat one bad oyster and you're done. Wake up with a stiff neck and you're done. Run into a zoning Czech and you're done. When Federer goes for the better part of a decade without losing before the business rounds, it's impressive.
"For the record, that was a joke. When Federer is, say, 50 we can revisit. For now, we're not advocating naming a show court at a major after an active player." - J. Wertheim. As a Nittany Lion who grew up in State College, Pa., can I get an Amen?
-- Paul K., Washington, D.C.
Never thought of Juan Martin del Potro as either political or someone who makes it into the Economist but here we are.
Nitin of Hyderabad, India: "For Tennis fans and Federer fans in particular: 24 minutes of sheer perfection - the best of Roger from Wimbledon 2012!"
J, of Portland, forwarded this interesting piece.
This is why we love Andy Murray. As linked to above, Dawn of Portland sends us this link of Murray laughing off his Wimbledon loss on BBC's "Mock the Week".
Press releasin': "The USTA announced today that F. Skip Gilbert has been named Managing Director, Professional Tennis Operations & U.S. Open Tournament Manager. In his new role, Gilbert will be responsible for the USTA's professional tournaments, including Cincinnati, New Haven and Atlanta; oversee all aspects of the USTA Pro Circuit department, including its interaction with Player Development; oversee the USTA's officiating department and the USTA's United States Olympic Committee relationship; as well as serve as Tournament Manager at the U.S. Open."