London (Olympics) – round 1st + 2nd
First Olympic tennis event on grass, first at the Grand Slam venue and for the first time including a mixed doubles competition… It’s a unique opportunity to watch “the best of three” matches at Wimbledon, and players wearing national colors instead of required white. Also the general decoration changed its look – additional purple color around the courts is visible, obviously with the Olympic flag here and there. The Olympics is the only tennis event which isn’t preceded by qualifying rounds, 64 guys enter automatically, this year five countries were allowed to appoint four players #. The defending champion Rafael Nadal  due to knee injury was forced to withdraw: “I am not in [a] condition to compete in the London Olympics and therefore will not travel as planned with the Spanish delegation to take part in the games. It is one of the saddest days of my career. You can imagine how difficult it was to take this decision.” He was replaced by Feliciano Lopez. Other Top 20 players who didn’t enter the tournament: Mardy Fish , Philipp Kohlschreiber  and Gael Monfils . Kohlschreiber was applied to the main draw but withdrew (just like four years ago in Beijing) after the final in Kitzbuhel where he worsened his foot injury (at least advanced from No. 23 to 16 playing in Austria when others were preparing for London…). It was a very lucky circumstance for Blazs Kavcic , because Kohlschreiber’s substitute Vishnu Vardhan  of India is a Futures level player, and the Slovenian beat him easily obtaining first win on grass in seven attempts.
Roger Federer  is the main contender for the title after recapturing Wimbledon crown last month. The Swiss needs only Olympic gold medal to his awesome collection (he failed to get a medal of any kind in three previous Olympic appearances ##), and the chance is exceptional because the tournament is held on Federer’s favorite venue. The 31-year-old Federer may never return to the Olympics. He had tricky opening matches. First he took Alejandro Falla , who almost eliminated Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon ’10 in the first round. This time Federer built a solid lead, but wasted a triple match point being 5:3* ahead in the 2nd set, and finally won 6-3 5-7 6-3 – his 13th victory despite a losing m.p.-up set. Federer admitted on Monday that the prospect of winning a singles gold medal would be a “dream come true… because I definitely get inspired by the 1992 victory by Marc Rosset.” In the second round Federer faced Julien Benneteau – his toughest opponent at Wimbledon four weeks ago. The Frenchman couldn’t repeat the resistance and managed to win just four games. Federer next awaits Denis Istomin – the Uzbek confirmed that reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon a month ago wasn’t a fluke. In a 2-hour-37-minute duel of hard serves, Istomin saved a double match point at *5:6 (15/40) in the 2nd set to beat Gilles Muller 6-7 7-6 7-5. Feliciano Lopez  has been already involved in a longer 3rd set in three matches, in both, singles and doubles. First on Saturday, in doubles teaming up David Ferrer, overcame the Polish duo (Fyrstenberg/Matkowski) 7-6 6-7 8-6 – the Spaniards were two points away from defeat; on Monday in singles he survived a 6-7 6-2 9-7 thriller over the aging Dmitry Tursunov, came back on court a couple hours later to win 11-9 in the doubles final set against the Austrians (Melzer/Peya).
Nadal’s withdrawal may help Federer, because Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are gathered in the same section of the draw. Federer’s highest ranked possible opponent before the final – Ferrer – has an awful 0-13 record against the Swiss. Djokovic and Murray in two opening matches showed very good, comprehensive tennis and their semifinal is almost guaranteed. Murray in each of his matches (both indoors) against experienced and dangerous players (Wawrinka, Nieminen) lost just six games, Djokovic admittedly lost the initial set of the tournament in inconvenient circumstances (his match with F.Fognini was halted due to rain at 7:7 in the 1st set tie-break), but in the next two he was a dominant figure, afterwards dispatched Andy Roddick 6-2 6-1 in barely 56 minutes. Roddick, once the biggest server on the tour, this time was outplayed even in aces (5-14). Who knows, maybe it was Djokovic’s best service performance ever, in the final game he delivered four aces, including two in a row in the last two points…
Big servers, Milos Raonic  and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  overcame Lopez’s singles effort explicitly with their 66-game match, which lasted 3 hours 56 minutes on Court No. 1. Their second round clash was suspended due to rain for almost three hours at 2:1* for Tsonga in the 3rd set. After the break the Frenchman saved three break points in the 5th game, since then, they were holding service games convincingly over a long time. Tsonga was close to get the decisive break twice (match point at 16:15 & 21:20), Raonic once – mini-match point at 11-all. Ultimately at 24:23 Raonic faded – made two errors in a row at the net to face a triple match point. He saved the first one – in that game – with a service winner, but on the second match point Tsonga played an amazing point in a deep defense (slipped twice), lobbed the Canadian and finished the point with a drop-volley, some part of spectators could think he finished it with an enthusiastic overhead because Raonic chased the volley only to play a hopeless lob, but the ball already bounced twice on his half of the court. “At the end, I was just very happy for my country,” said Tsonga. “I did it for them, and that’s it.” Raonic despite the bitter loss congratulated Tsonga with a smile on his face and joked afterwards: “I don’t think I can say too much about it now. Maybe next time, I will sort of ask my opponent, ‘Do you want to play a long match and let’s take it seriously from 26-26?’” Raonic was better in aces: 26-17, he won also two points more in total (180-178). It’s the longest deciding 3rd set in the Open era, with six games overcoming the previous record ### which unofficially was held by Tsonga’s compatriot Nicolas Mahut, who a couple days before his legendary match against John Isner, had won a qualifying round at Wimbledon, beating Alex Bogdanovic 24-22 in the 3rd set.
# Singles participants in regard of nationalities:
Seoul 1988 – 31 nationalities: 3 representatives – Mexico, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Spain, Nigeria, Italy, Israel, Soviet Union, USA & South Korea; 2 – Sweden, Austria, Paraguay, Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, Yugoslavia, Denmark & Argentina; 1 – Switzerland, Japan, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Poland, Netherlands, Greece, India, Brazil, New Zealand and Ivory Coast
Barcelona 1992 – 34 nationalities: 3 representatives – USA, India, Spain, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Netherlands, Argentina & Germany; 2 – Switzerland, Morocco, South Africa, Austria, Croatia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Great Britain & CIS; 1 – Israel, Czechoslovakia, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Canada, Norway, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bahamas, Denmark, Romania, South Korea, Japan and Ireland
Atlanta 1996 – 36 nationalities: 3 representatives – USA, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Australia, Netherlands & Argentina; 2 – Slovakia, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Romania, Great Britain, Zimbabwe, France, South Africa, Denmark, Ecuador, Czech Republik, Venezuela, Canada & Germany; 1 – Japan, Switzerland, Morocco, Uruguay, India, Armenia, Hungary, Bahamas, Nigeria, Haiti, New Zealand, Brazil, Russia, Norway and Croatia
Sydney 2000 – 32 nationalities: 4 representatives – Australia, France, Spain, Argentina, USA, Sweden & Germany; 3 – Czech Republik & Great Britain; 2 – Russia, Canada, Slovakia, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Chile & Croatia; 1 – Switzerland, India, Italy, Morocco, Bolivia, South Africa, Norway, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Costa Rica, Denmark, Thailand, Armenia, Brazil and Benin
Athens 2004 – 32 nationalities: 4 representatives – Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Sweden & USA; 3 – Croatia, Slovakia & Argentina; 2 – Czech Republik, Morocco, Belgium, Australia, Romania, Chile, Brazil & Belarus; 1 – Switzerland, Italy, Algeria, Thailand, Armenia, Canada, Ecuador, Austria, Finland, Taipei, Cyprus, Great Britain, Peru, Greece and South Korea
Beijing 2008 – 33 nationalities: 4 representatives – Russia, Spain, Czech Republik, France & Argentina; 3 – Italy, China, Sweden & USA; 2 – Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Australia, Germany, Belgium & Serbia; 1 – South Korea, Salvador, Slovakia, Latvia, Ecuador, South Africa, Togo, Belarus, Croatia, Romania, Finland, Japan, Taipei, Great Britain, Bahamas, Austria
London 2012 – 34 nationalities: 4 representatives – France, Spain, Russia, USA & Argentina; 3 – Belgium, Serbia & Japan; 2 – Switzerland, Colombia, Slovakia, Canada, India, Czech Republik, Australia, Italy & Croatia; 1 – Luxembourg, Romania, Uzbekistan, Tunisia, Taipei, Germany, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Poland, Netherlands, Cyprus, Finland, Great Britain, Brazil, Austria and Ukraine
## Players to participate at least in the third Olympics (singles):
4 – Roger Federer (2000-12); 3 – Lleyton Hewitt (2000, 2008-12), Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, Olivier Rochus, Jurgen Melzer, Jarkko Nieminen, Yen-Hsun Lu (2004-12)
### The longest – in terms of games – deciding 3rd set in singles (all in London):
2012 Olympics, 2R – JW.Tsonga d. M.Raonic 6-3, 3-6, 25-23
2010 Wimbledon, q – N.Mahut d. A.Bogdanovic 3-6, 6-3, 24-22
1979 Wimbledon, q – A.Marshal d. R.Stock 4-6, 6-3, 23-21
1999 Wimbledon, q – J.Thomas d. S.Prieto 6-4, 4-6, 23-21
2005 Wimbledon, q – C.Guccione d. O.Patience 4-6, 7-6, 23-21
1987 Queens Club, 2R – N.Odizor d. G.Forget 7-6, 4-6, 22-20
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