Also in his half of the draw are Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Thomas Berdych and World Number Two Novak Djokovic.
Murray’s Potential Olympic Path:
- Round 1: Stanislas Wawrinka ; - Round 2: Jarko Nieminen - Round 3: Richard Gasquet - Quarters: Tomas Berdych - Semis: Novak Djokovic - Final: Roger Federer
Djokovic’s Potential Olympic Path
- Round 1: Fabio Fognini; - Round 2: Andy Roddick; - Round 3: Marin Cilic; - Quarters: Jo Wilfred Tsonga - Semis: Andy Murray; - Final: Roger Federer
Federer’s Potential Olympic Path
- Round 1: Alejandro Falla; - Round 2: Julien Benneteau; - Round 3: Fernando Verdasco; - Quarters: Janko Tipsarevic; - Semis: David Ferrer; - Final: Novak Djokovic/Andy Murray
On first glance it appears as if Murray has pulled the short straw with many of his half of the draw being competent grass court players. However looks can be deceiving and looking into the draw closer shows how Murray’s chances of achieving a medal are a very realistic hope.
Murray’s first round opponent Wawrinka has proven to be a tough foe in previous meetings between the two, with Murray only winning six of their ten encounters.
Wawrinka was victorious in their most recent grand slam encounter at the US Open but Murray was hugely off his game that day and a more accurate stat is that Murray won the only match the two have competed against each other in at Wimbledon, albeit over 5 sets. On recent form, Murray also trumps his first round opponent, with his appearances in reaching the 2012 Wimbledon final looking a lot more convincing than Wawrinka’s first round exit to unseeded Jurgen Melzer.
Should Murray get through the first round as expected, he’d be likely to face Jarkko Nieminen. Nieminen has always been hanging around in the top 100 but lacks the quality to trouble one of the big guns of the game. In previous meetings Murray leads 4-0 in head-to-heads and has barely been troubled.
Waiting for Murray in the 3rdround would then be Richard Gasquet or Marcos Baghdatis. Both players can be extremely dangerous and are two of the most naturally talented players on the ATP tour but their temperaments can be questioned with Gasquet in particular having previously been labelled as a regular bottler when the going gets tough.
Against both players Murray has been challenged with 4-3 advantages over the pair, although many of them losses came early on in his career. In the most recent grass court matches between Murray and his potential opponents, Murray has escaped victorious with only minor scares.
The quarters will provide Murray with his sternest test yet should the draw open up as expected with Murray’s opponent likely to be Tomas Berdych. Berdych is a former Wimbledon finalist so would be no walkover although his recent form has been erratic to say the least, going out in Round 1 of this years Wimbledon in the early shock of the tournament. Berdych would be the first player Murray would face with a head-to-head deficit with Berdych’s 4 wins out of 6 proof that the Czech is dangerous. However they haven’t played on the grass in any of them six so the tie would bring a lot of excitement, drama and uncertainty.
If Murray gets this far as he is probably expected to he will come across his good friend Novak Djokovic. There is no doubt that Djokovic would go into the match a heavy favourite and major tournament battles between the two suggest that Djokovic is stronger mentally when it comes to the crunch time. In saying that, Djokovic struggled against the skill and accuracy of Federer in their recent Wimbledon final so if Murray is on his game there’s no reason why this matchup couldn’t see the underdog triumph.
Finally waiting in the wings, should Murray get this far, is New World Number One and Wimbledon conqueror Roger Federer. Federer has won the Olympic crown and has an enviable Wimbledon record that spans all the way back to 2003 when he picked up his first Grand Slam final. Whilst this may be beyond Murray, he will retain hope and even a Silver medal would be an extraordinary achievement.
I know the above is all hypothetical but there is no reason why Murray can’t fight his way to the final. Djokovic is of course a formidable opponent but has been handed an awful draw, having to potentially face former Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick, Queens Champion Marin Cilic, and the explosively powerful World Number 6 Jo Wilfred Tsonga. Should he get through these matches and reach the semi-final, Murray is likely to be fresher than Djokovic. If Andy plays to the high standards he is capable of and can sort his first serve out, Djokovic will struggle to match up. If Djokovic wasn’t to make it Murray is capable of beating all other players in Djokovic’s draw.
Falling at the semi-final stage would not be a disastrous result for Team GB with a 3rd place play-off likely to be against David Ferrer or Juan Martin Del Potro. Bronze here would be a drastic improvement on Murray’s Beijing disappointment of being eliminated in the first round and it would be expected against both of these two players on a grass court. Bronze is by no means a booby prize and would be something worth celebrating for Britain.
It may be a case of the British getting ahead of ourselves again but Murray will go into the Olympics as a genuine and realistic medal hope and rightly so. He may have a tough draw but nothing is beyond him.
Do you think Murray is a realistic medal hope?
image: © carine06