Federer, Nadal get first round Olympics’ matchups
7 August 2008
BEIJING – Top-ranked Roger Federer will play Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov in the first round of the Beijing Olympics tennis tournament, while rival Rafael Nadal could face a difficult second-round match up in the draw announced Thursday.
Nadal, who will replace Federer atop the rankings in the week after the Olympic tournament, drew Italy’s Potito Starace in the first round. But the Wimbledon and French Open champion could meet former No. 1-ranked Lleyton Hewitt of Australia or veteran Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden in the second round.
Federer lost in the second round of the Athens tournament four years ago, but the Swiss star won’t meet another seeded player until a possible meeting with No. 14 Ivo Carlovic of Croatia in the third round. Tursunov won his first ATP tournament in Sydney last January.
"He’s a dangerous player," Federer said of Tursunov, the world’s 35th-ranked pro. "He hits a very hard ball. He serves well. I’ve known him since juniors. We go way back. He’s a good player."
No. 3-ranked Novak Djokovic faces American Robby Ginepri, and No. 8 James Blake will start against Chris Guccione of Australia on the path to a possible quarterfinal meeting with Federer. Chile’s Nicolas Massu, the gold medallist in Athens, faces Belgium’s Steve Darcis.
Both of host China’s representatives drew daunting first-round matchups. No. 7 David Nalbandian of Argentina will take on Zeng Shaoxuan, while Sun Peng will face 12th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, a bronze medallist in Athens.
On the women’s side, top-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia drew Ukraine’s Mariya Koryttseva, while second-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia will face Zimbabwe’s Cara Black, who drew an Olympic wild card to make the tournament.
Three of China’s four women’s representatives also drew ranked opponents. Li Na must face No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Wimbledon semi-finalist Zheng Jie will meet 11th-seeded Agnes Szavay of Hungary, and Yan Zi takes on ninth-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia.
Serena and Venus Williams are on opposite sides of the draw, with fourth-seeded Serena opening against Belarus’ Olga Govortsova and No. 7 Venus facing Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky. Lindsay Davenport, the Olympic champion in Atlanta 12 years ago, drew Australia’s Alicia Molik, who won a bronze medal in Athens.
Bjorkman and Koryttseva were among the 12 players granted special places in the Olympic tournament by the International Tennis Federation.
[AP / Expatica]