Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Tennis stars look forward to Rio

Published:Monday | July 18, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The 'Big 4' of men's tennis is enthusiastic about the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, unlike their counterparts in golf.

Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all have participated in the Summer Games in the past, all own a medal, and all talk about that event's importance to their sport every four years - even if it already has four Grand Slam tournaments every year.

Consider what Britain's Murray said when he was asked about Brazil the day after winning Wimbledon for the second time.

"I've loved being in the two Olympics that I've been at," said the No. 2-ranked Murray, who won a gold in singles at the 2012 London Games. "Rio is obviously a big, big goal of mine, and hopefully I can perform well there."

The No. 1-ranked Djokovic won a singles bronze for Serbia at the 2008 Beijing Games, then came up just short of a medal four years ago.

No. 3 Federer won a gold for Switzerland in doubles with Stan Wawrinka eight years ago, and a silver in singles four years ago.

No. 4 Nadal won a singles gold for Spain in Beijing, missed London because he was hurt, and appealed to the International Tennis Federation to allow him to compete in Rio after he failed to fulfil Davis Cup commitments because of injuries.


Even if this quartet owns a combined 46 Grand Slam titles, the Olympics still matter to them. Much will be made of the contrast between this group's interest in the Summer Games and what happened in golf, which will be missing Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy in Rio.

"Olympic Games are the most renowned and most prominent sports event in the history of sport. No question about it. There is no bigger sports event than the Olympic Games," Djokovic said. "For me, as a professional athlete, it's a huge honour to be part of it."

There are some noteworthy players who won't be there: seven of the top 20 men in the July 11 ATP rankings. That includes Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic of Canada; Czech Wimbledon semi-finalist Tomas Berdych; the top American man, John Isner; Australia's best two tennis players, Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic; and Dominic Thiem, who would have given Austria a chance at a medal.