We are getting down to nitty-gritty across the way at the Beijing Olympics. Later today the quarterfinals get underway with a line-up loaded with star power. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena and Venus Williams, new No. 1 Jelena Jankovic and of course my man, Gael Monfils who faces Novak in the best match of the day.
Unfortunately for Monfils, I really don’t like his chances against Djokovic. I’ll be rooting for the kid but Novak’s just too far ahead of Gael at this point in the career maturity curve, but I expect the Frenchman to gain the upper hand in a few years.
Federer will have another dangerous test in James Blake. On paper he’s had the huge edge just as he did against Dmitry Tursunov and Tomas Berdych in earlier wins, but again he’ll face someone with a big, powerful game who has the ability to blow his opponent off the court. That said, I think James will keep it close for a while, before the…well the damn breaks.
Federer or Blake will get of the winner of the Fernando Gonzalez-Paul Mathieu match, which in my mind is the toughest match of the day. Mathieu has a ton of game, but he’s almost like a French version of Blake. And Gonzalez is well, gonzo. But Gonzalez has a good Olympic history and with the Chilean fans courtside – I’m sure they’ll be there, they’re everywhere! Plus, where else are they going to go? Synchronized Diving? – I think he’ll advance in three.
Soon-to-be No. 1 Rafael Nadal has the easiest test of the top guys today taking on Austrian Jurgen Melzer in a battle a lefties. I’ll go out on a limb and look for Nadal to advance comfortable.
Federer, by the way, will also have to play later in the day in doubles quarterfinals with Stan Wawrinka against the Indian Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. If Fed wins his singles I think the Indians will advance.
As for the women, we have Serena v. Elena Dementieva, Venus v. Li Na, Jankovic v. Dinara Safina and Sybille Bammer v. Vera Zvonareva.
So in all, a pretty good day of tennis is in store in Beijing.
Play begins at 4pm local time with Federer on Center Court, followed by Venus, Nadal and then Jankovic. 4pm Beijing time means 4am for those in the Eastern part of the U.S.
And if you can’t catch it on the tube here in the U.S. in between Michael Phelps gold medals, beach volleyball and HD boxing, check out NBC’s online live tennis streaming at:
http://www.nbcolympics.com/tennis/index.html. It’s golden!
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