Nadal, Federer Advance at Beijing Olympics; Murray, Ferrer Upset

Posted on August 11, 2008

2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon champion, has dropped nine places in the rankings to No. 37 this week. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is his first tournament since Wimbledon, having undergone assessment on his ongoing hip injury for the past 6 weeks.

Roger FEDERER (SUI) should have an easier encounter with Rafael AREVALO (ESA), who is playing his first Olympics by invitation of the International Tennis Federation. The 22-year-old received one of the Tripartite places and is the first tennis player from El Salvador to compete at an Olympic Games. His victory over Hyung-Taik LEE (KOR) in the first round was his first against a Top 100 player.

France is the most successful nation in the tournament so far, with all four Frenchmen still alive in the competition -– No. 10 seed GILLES SIMON (FRA), Paul-Henri MATHIEU (FRA), Michael LLODRA (FRA) and Gael MONFILS (FRA), who upset No. 11 seed Nicolas ALMAGRO on Monday. No. 26-ranked MATHIEU has the toughest draw of his teammates, facing fourth seed Nikolay DAVYDENKO (RUS). The Russian has won three titles this year, at TMS Miami, Portschach and Warsaw, but MATHIEU has had the better Grand Slam season by reaching the fourth round at both the Australian Open and the French Open.

Athens 2004 Gold medallist Nicolas MASSU (CHI), ranked No. 125, meets world No. 8 David NALBANDIAN (ARG) for the first time since 2004. The fiercely patriotic NALBANDIAN has had acclaimed success in Davis Cup this year, winning all five of his Singles and Doubles rubbers to lead Argentina to September’s semifinals.

No. 12 seed Fernando GONZALEZ (CHI) has a second meeting with 1.98m Marin CILIC (CRO), The 19-year-old defeated GONZALEZ, the Athens 2004 Bronze medallist and 2007 Australian Open runner-up, in the third round of this year’s Australian Open.

The USA’s hopes lie with James BLAKE (USA), seeded No. 8 here, who plays 451st-ranked Dominik HRBATY (SVK). HRBATY, once ranked No. 12 in the world, has been plagued by elbow and shoulder injuries for the last 11 months.

No. 3 seed Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB), who has a 28-6 record on hard court this year, plays 2008 Wimbledon semifinalist Rainer SCHUETTLER in the first match of the evening session on Court 1. DJOKOVIC is the reigning Australian Open champion and also finished runner-up on hard court at last year’s US Open.

 On her second day as the new world No. 1, Jelena JANKOVIC (SRB) meets No. 30-ranked Alona BONDARENKO (UKR). The Ukrainian won the Australian Open Doubles title in January with sister Kateryna, and reached career-high rankings in both Singles and Doubles this year – at No. 19 and No. 14, respectively.

LI Na (CHN), PENG Shuai (CHN) and ZHENG Jie (CHN) carry home interest today as the only surviving Chinese in the Olympic Tennis Event. LI caused an upset on Monday by ousting No. 3 seed Svetlana KUZNETSOVA (RUS) and is the only Chinese player to have been ranked in the top 20. She plays here ranked No. 42. ZHENG, who plays Nuria LLAGOSTERA VIVES (ESP), also caused an upset when beating No. 11 seed Agnes SZAVAY (HUN) in the first round. PENG meets 15th seed Alize CORNET of France in the first match of the day on Centre Court.

Athens 2004 Olympic Gold medallists Serena and Venus WILLIAMS (USA) meet Sam STOSUR (AUS) and Iveta BENESOVA (CZE) respectively. STOSUR and BENESOVA also competed in Athens and have already improved on their results by scoring their first Olympic victories in the first round here in Beijing. STOSUR is ranked No. 79 this week and BENESOVA No. 59.

Birthday girl Maria Jose MARTINEZ SANCHEZ (ESP) turns 26 today and could have a double celebration should she defeat No. 6 seed Dinara SAFINA (RUS) in their second round match. SAFINA is on a 12-match winning streak, having picked up titles in Los Angeles and Montreal. Doubles specialist MARTINEZ SANCHEZ, who plays left-handed, replaced Lindsay DAVENPORT (USA) in the Women’s Singles. She is ranked No. 86 and reached her first ever Singles final at Barcelona in June.

No. 8 seed Agnieszka RADWANSKA (POL) is first up on Court 4 against Francesca SCHIAVONE (ITA). The Italian has never lost to RADWANSKA, winning their previous two meetings back in 2006, but the Pole is enjoying the best season of her career and along with SAFINA and Serena WILLIAMS (USA), leads the tour for number of titles won this year (3). RADWANSKA plays here on a career-high ranking of No. 9; SCHIAVONE is ranked No. 26.

Fifth seed Elena DEMENTIEVA (RUS) is one of three Russians into the second round, alongside SAFINA and Vera ZVONAREVA (RUS).  (ITF)