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London 2012: Day One Pick 'Em

Serena Williams hits a practice serve ahead before an Olympic backdrop.
by Dan Imhoff
Friday 27 July 2012

Our guide to what to look out for on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic tennis event.

Roger Federer (SUI) [1] v Alejandro Falla (COL): Colombian Alejandro Falla stood on the cusp of one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledon history when he led defending champion Roger Federer by two sets in 2010. On Saturday the South American leftie will have a second crack at upstaging the Swiss great on the biggest stage. The stakes this time, however, are different for Federer, with a singles gold medal proving elusive. While Falla felled grass-court danger-man John Isner at this year’s Championships, his opponent is fresh from claiming his seventh title on the same lawns. Falla’s best hope is that the emotion of again carrying Switzerland’s flag at Friday night’s Opening Ceremony becomes a distraction for Federer or that he drops the flag pole on his foot and breaks his big toe. Both equally unlikely.
Pick: Federer in two.

Serena Williams (USA) [4] v Jelena Jankovic (SRB): Serb Jelena Jankovic must be shaking her head at her horror grass-court draws against fellow former No.1s at the All England Club this year – a first-up loss to Kim Clijsters at The Championships, now the eventual Wimbledon Champion Serena Williams awaiting in Round 1 for the Olympics. The Williams-Jankovic head-to-head is locked at four-apiece yet they haven’t played in two years and never on grass. The more telling statistic is the pair’s contrasting form coming into this match. If nothing else, Jankovic will be fresh after an extra fortnight off.  
Pick: A spirited start from the Serbian will see her close to sneaking the first set but expect Serena to take it before running away with the match.

Tomas Berdych (CZE) [6] v Steve Darcis (BEL): A surprise first-round loss at this year’s Championships will have dented the Czech’s pride – having been a finalist here in 2010 – but expect the sixth seed to send an early warning to Great Britain’s Andy Murray with the pair tipped to meet in the quarter-finals. In a first-time meeting between Berdych and Darcis and as the opening match on Centre Court, there is no better time than the present for the Czech to shake the ghosts of his last match on the famed arena.
Pick: Berdych comfortably in two sets.

Petra Kvitova (CZE) [6] v Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR): Welcome the Czech Republic’s second serious medal hope in Olympic tennis – last year’s Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova. Like her countryman Berdych, both are proven performers on grass, both seeded sixth. If you were to go by past encounters alone, Kvitova’s opening task should be a little trickier than her countryman’s. Her opponent, Kateryna Bondarenko, leads their head-to-head 2-1 but the last time they played two years ago Kvitova was only a top-40 player – a far cry from the fitter and more confident force the Ukrainian will face across the net on Saturday.
Pick: Kvitova to follow Berdych’s script with a straight-sets win.

Others to watch:

David Nalbandian (ARG) v Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) [7]: After “putting his foot in it” at Eastbourne, Nalbandian will be keen to turn the tables on the pair’s first round match at The Championships.

John Isner (USA) [10] v Olivier Rochus (BEL): More a spectacle to see the 6ft 9ins American shaking hands at net with Belgium’s 5ft 6ins pocket rocket Olivier Rochus.

Samantha Stosur (AUS) [5] v Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP): Another first round Wimbledon rematch, the Aussie will be up to task shouldering the hopes of the green and gold away from home.

Kim Clijsters (BEL) v Roberta Vinci (ITA): It is the event that drew the Belgian mum out of a premature retirement so expect a blistering start to her campaign.

Li Na (CHN) v Daniela Hantuchova (SVK): The Slovak leads their head-to-head 3-2, including a win last year on grass. An upset on the cards, perhaps?

Jamie Murray/Andy Murray (GBR) v Jurgen Melzer/Alexander Peya (AUT): The Scottish brothers face a tricky opening but will lift with the home crowd.

Angelique Kerber/ Sabine Lisicki (GER) [5] v Laura Robson/Heather Watson (GBR): The same home crowd will carry Robson and Watson but expect the heavy-hitting Germans to scrape through.

The London 2012 Olympic tennis is taking place at Wimbledon. Visit the ITF Olympics site for full scores, draws and the London 2012 site for video content, venue and schedule information.



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