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Old Jul 19th, 2008, 04:46 AM   #1
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2008 Summer Olympic Games Preview - Tennis

World No. 1s Roger Federer of Switzerland and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia will be among those heading to Beijing
next month to play for gold at the 2008 Summer Games. Wimbledon and French Open champion Rafael Nadal of
Spain will also be among those hunting for some hardware in China.

At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Chilean Nicolas Massu and Belgian Justine Henin captured the singles
golds, but don't expect either one to repeat the feat in Beijing. Massu has been a non-factor of late, while Henin,
who beat France's Amelie Mauresmo in the gold medal match in Greece, retired from the sport back in May. The
2004 doubles golds went to Massu and his compatriot Fernando Gonzalez and Chinese women Ting Li and
Tiantian Sun. Massu and Gonzalez will be together again in China, while Sun will be paired with fellow
countrywoman Shuai Peng this time around.

The top singles contenders among the men will be the U.S. Open champion Federer, Nadal and Australian Open
titlist and U.S. Open runner-up Novak Djokovic of Serbia. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic will also play doubles in
Beijing, as Federer will pair with Stanislas Wawrinka, Nadal will compete with Tommy Robredo and Djokovic will go
into battle with doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic.

Earlier this month, Federer and Nadal played in one of the greatest tennis matches of all-time, as the Spaniard
prevailed in five sets in an electric Wimbledon final. And less than a month earlier, the five-time major champion
Nadal whipped the 12-time Grand Slam titlist Federer in straight sets in a disappointing French Open finale.

Nine of the world's Top-10 men (at the time of this preview) are expected to be on hand in Beijing, as Russian
Nikolay Davydenko, Spaniard David Ferrer, American James Blake, Argentine David Nalbandian, Brit Andy Murray
and the Swiss Wawrinka will also be part of the Games' strongest-ever field.

Top-10 star Andy Roddick decided against making the trip.

Some of the other Top-20 men will be Robredo, Gonzalez and Russian Mikhail Youzhny, while former world No. 1
and two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt will also be on hand, representing Australia.

The only other American men penciled in for singles are Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri. And Querrey will also
play some doubles, alongside Blake.

In the men's doubles in Beijing, the twin American Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, will certainly be among the
favorites.

Nine of the world's Top-10 women expect to be in Beijing, as the French Open champion and Australian Open
runner-up Ivanovic will be joined by Aussie Open titlist Maria Sharapova of Russia, Serbian Jelena Jankovic, U.S.
Open runner- up Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, two-time major runner-up Elena Dementieva of Russia,
Americans Serena Williams and Venus Williams, French Open runner-up Dinara Safina of Russia and Poland's
Agnieszka Radwanska. The seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus is the reigning Wimbledon champ, having
beaten her eight- time-major-titlist-winning younger sister in a marquee final earlier this month. Venus captured
Olympic singles gold in Sydney eight years ago by besting Dementieva in the gold medal bout.

The powerful Williams sisters will also team up to play doubles in China. The sisters recently paired to capture the
championship at the All England Club, and secured doubles gold in Sydney back in 2000.

Some of the other Top-20 ladies set to compete are Russian Vera Zvonareva, Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova,
Swiss Patty Schnyder and Hungarian Agnes Szavay. American Lindsay Davenport, the 1996 gold medal winner in
Atlanta, will also make the trip to the Far East, as will France's two-time Grand Slam singles champ Mary Pierce,
who has been sidelined since October of 2006 after suffering a severe left knee injury. The three-time major
singles champion Davenport will also play doubles, alongside doubles stalwart Liezel Huber.

The tennis portion of the '08 Games will be staged from August 10-17 on hardcourts at Beijing's spanking new
Olympic Tennis Center.

All matches will be played to the best of three sets, except for the men's singles and doubles finals, which are
played to the best of five. In all four draws, the semifinal winners will play to decide the gold and silver medals and
the semifinal losers will compete for the bronze.

The United States has won nine of the 20 gold medals awarded in tennis since the 1988 Seoul Games, but the
2004 Games marked the only time since tennis returned as a full medal sport that the U.S. failed to win at least
one gold. Mardy Fish collected the only American medal in '04, a silver in men's singles, marking the first time that
the U.S. earned less than three medals in a single Olympic competition.

(Sports Network, July 17, 2008)

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