Djokovic stands between Mur­ray and sec­ond gold

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

BRI­TAIN’S Andy Mur­ray, bristling with con­fi­dence af­ter end­ing a three-year wait for another grand slam ti­tle at Wim­ble­don, will seek to make his­tory in Brazil by be­com­ing the first man to win suc­ces­sive Olympic gold medals in men’s sin­gles ten­nis.

But to repli­cate his Lon­don Olympics tri­umph Mur­ray will need to find a chink in the ar­mour of No­vak Djokovic, the proud Serb who has dom­i­nated men’s ten­nis in re­cent years and now has his eye on the only ma­jor hon­our to elude him.

In re­cent years Mur­ray has strug­gled to hold his own in the ri­valry against child­hood friend Djokovic, who de­feated him in the 2016 Aus­tralian and French Open fi­nals to be­came the first man since 1969 to hold all four grand slam ti­tles at once.

Djokovic’s maiden French Open ti­tle el­e­vated the Serb, a win­ner of 12 grand slams, to the pan­theon of ten­nis greats but a lack­lus­tre third-round exit at Wim­ble­don has of­fered hope to Mur­ray and his other ri­vals that his dom­i­nance may be ebbing.

“Win­ning medals for your coun­try is as good as it gets,” said Mur­ray, who in 2012 be­came the first Bri­ton in 104 years to win a men’s sin­gles gold medal at Olympics.

Three-time grand slam win­ner Mur­ray will be hop­ing to im­prove on his 24- 10 ca­reer match record against Djokovic in Brazil, where the two men are favourites to take gold.

Roger Fed­erer’s hopes of win­ning a men’s sin­gles Olympics gold to go with the dou­bles ti­tle he won in 2008 look to be at an end.

The 34-year-old pulled out of Rio – and the rest of the sea­son – to un­dergo re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion on his left knee.

In the women’s game, 22-time grand slam win­ner Ser­ena Wil­liams is hot favourite to re­tain the Olympic sin­gles gold that she won for the first time in 2012.

Wil­liams, who won three Olympic dou­bles gold medals with sis­ter Venus, un­der­scored her dom­i­nance of the women’s game this month by lift­ing her sev­enth Wim­ble­don ti­tle.

Ger­many’s An­gelique Ker­ber and Spain’s Gar­bine Mugu­ruza have con­tested the last four grand slam fi­nals against Wil­liams and are ex­pected to be her main chal­lengers in Rio.

But Rus­sia’s Maria Shara­pova, who lost to Wil­liams in the 2012 fi­nal, will miss Rio as she is still serving a two-year ban for fail­ing a drug test. – Reuters

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