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Tennis at the Olympics is always something special – a break in the usual calendar that sees the world’s elite players represent their country for a little over a week, and produce plenty of drama on court.
The likes of Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Steffi Graf have all won gold in the Olympics. It’s a much rarer achievement than claiming a Grand Slam and something Pete Sampras, Tim Henman and Andy Roddick never achieved.
Betting on tennis is ideal for players who have experience following the ATP and WTA tours. In effect this is a bonus tournament with as much importance on it as a Grand Slam. With that in mind, matches are expected to be fierce when the action gets underway on 24 July. Here, Paddy Power offers the best picks for the men’s and women’s singles…
Having won all three Grand Slams to date this year, few bettors will look past Novak Djokovic to secure a gold medal in Tokyo. The Serb is on top form, ran riot on clay and grass, and is now back on his favoured hard surface. What’s more, Djokovic won the Japan Open in 2019 – the last time the tour headed to Tokyo.
Who could stop Djokovic? If you’re looking for an outside bet then Andy Murray is likely to attract attention. Murray is two-time defending gold medalist and would love to make it three. Sadly, Roger Federer has withdrawn from the event with injury – a big blow for organisers. Yet even if Federer had been fit, neither he nor Murray can realistically match the physicality of Djokovic these days.
Perhaps one of the younger stars – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev or Alexander Zverev for example – could rival the World No 1. But in reality this gold medal is heading back to Serbia.
Best Bet: Djokovic wins gold NAP
As for the women’s draw, Naomi Osaka is playing in front of a home crowd (if you count officials as fans…) but the World No 2 is by no means on an easy path to gold. Australia’s Ashleigh Barty deservedly won Wimbledon in July and is the dominant top seed. Barty, along with Aryna Sabalenka and Elina Svitolina, are more than a match for Osaka.
Barty in particular is enjoying career-defining form right now. She dominated Wimbledon with her heavy serve and gritted baseline game. An ability to mix things up while remaining remarkably consistent when defending points has seen Barty come through major adversity on court. She is a strong pick to reach the Olympics final.
It’s fair to say this women’s tournament is almost too tough to call. Karolina Pliskova has had success winning in Tokyo, as has her compatriot Petra Kvitova. Another Czech, Barbora Krejcikova, won the French earlier this summer. But it could well be Osaka – the champion of four of the last six Grand Slams on hard – who brings home the medal.
Best Bet: Osaka wins gold NB
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