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London 2012: Day Two Pick 'Em

Andy Murray hits the practice courts ahead of the Olympic tennis event.
by Dan Imhoff
Sunday 29 July 2012

Our guide to what to look out for on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic tennis event.

Andy Murray (GBR) [3] v Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI): Will the heartache of a fourth Grand Slam singles final loss linger for Great Britain’s great Olympic tennis hope or will the buzz of the host nation merely spur him on to finally become the last man standing at the All England Club next Saturday? It is a stern task for Andy Murray first up. Switzerland’s No.2, Stanislas Wawrinka, had the honour of carrying his nation’s flag in Friday night’s Opening Ceremony so will not be short on inspiration. He has also troubled Murray on Wimbledon’s Centre Court before, pushing the Scot to five sets at the 2009 Championships. In 10 previous meetings, Murray has won six and while he’d tell you he’s not looking beyond the Swiss challenge, he would sense a medal opportunity after his bogeyman, Tomas Berdych – the man he was drawn to meet in the quarter-finals stage – bombed out on Saturday. 
Pick: Murray in three sets.

Maria Sharapova (RUS) [3] v Shahar Peer (ISR): Of the eight tennis players chosen to carry their nation’s flag at the Opening Ceremony, arguably the toughest competition came from within the medal-heavy Russian ranks, where Maria Sharapova was a surprise selection. Keen to let her results back up the honour, the Russian is likely to start with a bang against a player who has only twice taken a set off her in six career meetings. The Israeli simply won’t have the weapons on grass to hassle Maria.
Pick: Sharapova in two.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2] v Fabio Fognini (ITA): The Serb is quick to nominate R. Federer as the Olympic gold medal favourite and rightly so, having lost his Wimbledon crown to the Swiss and the No.1 ranking. Don’t let the favouritism buck-passing fool you. Djokovic is desperate to reassert his dominance and will barely break a sweat against an Italian more comfortable with the red dirt under foot.
Pick: Djokovic in a canter.

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [2] v Julia Goerges (GER): Germany’s free-swinging glamour girl Julia Goerges has the artillery to worry the world No.2 but against the most consistent player in the game, she will have her work cut out. Radwanska is the toast of Poland after her recent run to the Wimbledon final and may give her the confidence to go for broke on a court she is now well familiar with. Twice this year they have played, twice Radwanska has prevailed in straight sets, albeit on her preferred surface of hard court. 
Pick: The new-found pressure of success will unsettle Radwanska, but expect her to wrap it up in three.

Others to watch:

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [5] v Thomaz Bellucci (BRA): The Brazilian caused the Bryan brothers some serious headaches in the doubles on Saturday but the big Frenchman enjoys his time on the turf.

Sara Errani (ITA) [9] v Venus Williams (USA): Tough opener for the diminutive Italian. A three-time Olympic gold medallist playing in what must surely be her final Games will tower across the net from her but form favours Errani.

Victoria Azarenka (BLR) [1] v Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU): Belarus’s big gold medal hope should have fews troubles against the hyphenated Romanian.

David Ferrer (ESP) [4] v Vasek Pospisil (CAN): There’s a second Canadian in the Olympic men’s singles draw? A top four seeding will only bolster the ever-consistent Spaniard’s game.

Roger Federer/Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) [6] v Kei Nishikori/Go Soeda (JPN): A rare chance to see Roger Federer on an outside court at Wimbledon when Switzerland’s own dream team get their Olympic gold medal defence off to a start.

Laura Robson (GBR) v Lucie Safarova (CZE): The host nation’s best women’s hope on Day 2 will look to make the most of a last-minute call-up into the main draw in a battle of the lefties.

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