Who are Britain’s best gold medal bets for Tokyo?
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The Tokyo Olympics are just around the corner, with the world’s best athletes travelling to Japan ahead of next week’s opening ceremony. After Wimbledon, focus in the tennis world now turns to the Olympics, where gold medals are up for grabs in men’s and women’s singles and doubles, as well as mixed doubles.
Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he will compete in Tokyo, with all eyes the world number one as he continues his quest for the Golden Slam.
The 34-year-old is chasing the unprecedented achievement which comes when a player wins all the Majors and an Olympic gold medal in a single calendar year.
Such an achievement has never been done in men’s tennis, but Steffi Graf – an icon in the women’s game – did complete it in 1988.
The Olympics has been hit by a spate of withdrawals in recent weeks. The men’s competition will be without Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem, Denis Shapovalov and Stan Wawrinka, among others.
Meanwhile, 2016 silver medalist Angelique Kerber, 2012 Olympic gold medallist Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams are also not competing in Tokyo.
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British number ones Dan Evans and Johanna Konta are both not competing after testing positive for coronavirus.
The Games will be held behind closed doors, with Tokyo in a state of emergency following a spike in coronavirus cases.
Here are all the key facts you need to know.
When is it?
The Olympics will run from Friday, 23 July to Sunday, 8 August, with 339 events in 33 sports set to take place.
The tennis event runs from Saturday, 24 July to Sunday, 1 August on the hard courts at Ariake Tennis Park.
What is the format?
There are five tennis events at the Olympics: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
Both singles events will have 64 competitors in a knock-out format, with matches comprising three sets.
Players who reach the semi-finals will all compete for a medal, with the losing semi-finalists playing one another to determine who wins bronze.
Doubles matches will play the first to 10 points in a tie-break instead of a third set.
Who is playing?
The focus has been on who isn’t playing recently, but there are still plenty of stars involved.
Djokovic will be automatic favourite for the men’s singles, but Great Britain’s 2012 and 2016 gold medalist Andy Murray will be defending his title in Japan.
The women’s game has bit-hitters, too, despite defending champion Monica Puig of Puerto Rico pulling out with a shoulder injury.
World number one and Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty and home favourite Naomi Osaka are both scheduled to play in Tokyo.
From a British perspective, while Evans and Konta are not involved, there will be Murray, Heather Watson and doubles pair Neal Skupski and Jamie Murray to watch.
When is the draw?
The main draw ceremony for the Olympic tennis event is scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 22 at 11am local time at Ariake Tennis Park.
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