Rio

Andy Murray A Solid Favorite To Win US Open After Another Olympic Gold In Rio

Two Wimbledon titles. Two Olympic Gold Medals. How about two U.S. Opens for Andy Murray?

The Scotsman won his second Olympic Gold Medal in Rio de Janiero, Brazil beating Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the gold medal match to become the first singles player in Olympic history to win two gold medals – and repeat as champion. The Olympic gold medal for Murray comes on the heels of him winning his second Wimbledon singles title in July.

He now heads to New York as a betting favorite for the U.S. Open, the site of his first major singles title in 2012.

Murray has won his last 18 singles matches – not losing since the French Open final to Novak Djokovic and since he rehired former coach Ivan Lendl, himself a three-time U.S. Open champion. It is his longest winning streak of his professional career.

After being the dominant force in men’s tennis for much of the last three years, Djokovic has shown chinks in his game after a surprising third-round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon and an opening-round loss to del Potro at the Olympics. However, redemption is a motivator for the Serbian as he looks to win in New York for a third time.

The U.S. Open women’s singles event may also be a battle for the No. 1 ranking with Serena Williams seeking to hold off the challenge of world No. 2 Angelique Kerber of Germany. Williams had trouble with her health and her shoulder in her upset loss to Elina Svitolina in the third round at the Olympics that could hamper her in New York. Despite her upset loss to upstart Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the gold medal match in Rio, Kerber could counter-punch her win to a second major singles title of the year after her win over Williams in the Australian Open final in January. Garbine Muguruza of Spain, the French Open champion, may also contend in New York, but has struggled since achieving her new status in the tennis world order in Paris.

With the Olympics proving to be a physical and emotional drain for many athletes who competed, a dark horse could also emerge in either the men’s or women’s field and win a first major singles title. New top 10 stars Dominic Thiem of Austria and Milos Raonic of Canada, the Wimbledon finalist, may be fresh enough to make a mark at Flushing Meadows. Romania’s Simona Halep, who also skipped Rio, and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, a first-round loser at the Olympics, may also be ready to break through in New York. Madison Keys of the United States, who finished a painful fourth in Rio, is moving fast up the rankings and may be fueled by her disappointment in not winning a medal in Rio into Grand Slam success in New York.

Can Rio Entice Elite Tennis Players?

The Olympics have tried, rather unsuccessfully, to compete with the Grand Slams, this despite the fact that Tennis is an original Olympic Sport. While everyone loves Olympic gold medals, Trophy silverware has always been far more prestigious. As such it is hardly surprising that the best tennis players are not particularly enthused by the idea of playing in the Olympics, with online tennis betting odds firmly in the favor of the annual quartet of majors.

Players like Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, and Feliciano Lopez have already announced that they won’t be flying to Rio for the Olympics. Maria Sharapova (Five-time Grand Slam winner) has suggested that she would go if her two-year-long drug ban wasn’t in place.

While the London games managed to maintain an aura of the Grand Slams, probably because they were staged on Wimbledon Courts, the Game in Rio couldn’t possibly muster such prestige.

The controversy surrounding the Zika virus outbreak gives a lot of athletes the excuse the need to bail from the Olympics. Though, Sam Querrey chose to go the honest route, admitting that he didn’t think sports like Golf and Tennis should be Olympic Sports in the first place.

Martina Navratilova said something similar when she opted out of Seoul, though John McEnroe admitted later on that he regretted bailing on the Seoul Olympics.

The only thing most top-tier players can see right now is the U.S Open at the Flushing Meadows, fast approaching at the end of August. For those most renowned Tennis players, the Rio games have nothing to offer, no better than all-star games, especially when you consider the potential for injury.

Of course, not everyone is so jaded about the sport, with the likes of Andre Agassi (who won gold in 1996) having been stirred by the spectacle of the biggest show on earth. Olympics fans might also have the opportunity to see Rafael Nadal represent Spain in Rio, though others might mourn over Roger Federer’s decision to withdraw.

But Federer needs to time to recover from a surgical procedure, so his decision doesn’t exactly say anything about his opinion on the Olympics. Andy Murray, on the other hand, has seen success at the Olympics and he will seek to maintain the momentum he built four years ago.

Murray believes that Tennis is definitely an Olympic sport and he has admitted to cherishing every moment he spent on the court during the London Games.

For Djokovic, the idea of not going to the Olympics is ridiculous, the Tennis superstar determining to redeem his previous Olympics failures in Rio. Despite the lack of interest amongst elite players from a number of countries, the United States is putting their best foot forward, sending a team of 12 to the Olympics led by the Williams sisters.

The Sisters have tasted success at the Olympics before and they would like to win every medal possible for their nation this time round. There are several other major players who have refused to allow Zika Virus fears to keep them away from Rio, the likes of Eugene Bouchard, Angelique Kerber, and Petra Kvitova determining to afford the Olympic games the respect they deserve.