Well, the hits keep coming for the Rio Olympics, don't they. Has there ever been a Games in history in which people were falling all over each other to miss the plane?
Even though tennis is fairly new to the Olympics, it seemed to start taking more of a priority among the game's stars. "Seemed" is the operative word here. Because this time, it's taking a back seat to the likes of the Zika virus, a smattering of injuries and the U.S. Open. That's right, a tournament they have every year is taking priority over THE OLYMPICS.
Quick disclaimer: There is every chance the Rio Olympics are going to be a giant disaster. We've got a mosquito-borne illness that leads to birth defects in babies. We've got the threat of terrorism. We've got reports that athletes are staying in the Motel 6 instead of the Olympic village because the place has plumbing that is leaking like a sieve.
Having said all of that, there are still enough athletes willing to take the chance because it is THE OLYMPICS. But some of the people who are missing it might surprise you. Let's discuss them now:
1. Roger Federer: Federer announced this week that he just can't, guys. He's actually sitting out the rest of the year because of this nagging knee injury. I just read a Rolling Stone story about how Federer is in the twilight of his career and I can't help but be amused by this talk. Mark me: Federer is still a legit threat in men's tennis -- when he's healthy. And he is usually healthy. But, anyway.
2. Belinda Bencic: She would have joined Federer on the Swiss team, but she has decided to focus on the U.S. Open. Yes, the U.S. Open begins, like, two weeks after the tennis event in Rio. That's a tight turnaround. But here's what's blowing my mind here. Bencic's doubles partner would have been Martina Hingis. MAR. TINA. HINGIS. You would basically be guaranteed a medal, and probably the gold, assuming Hingis doesn't have the same lackluster results she did at Wimbledon. With a huge advantage like that, you walk away?
3. Nick Krygios and Bernard Tomic: Of course. Of course. Rebels gonna rebel.
4. Dominic Thiem: How about this for a fun fact: The country of Austria is essentially begging Thiem to go to the Olympics. The editor of one of the country's largest newspapers wrote an open letter asking Theim to change his mind, but the kid won't do it. Theim says his priority is also winning a major. Kids today. No respect for the Olympics.
5. John Isner: I'm not sure if you knew this -- I'm not quite sure I realized it -- but John Isner is the highest-ranked American male in the world right now. He's saying he won't play the Olympics because it doesn't offer ranking points, so he's focusing on events in the U.S. leading up to the last Slam of the year. Right hand: 100 points. Left hand: Gold, silver or bronze medal. Ohhhhhkay, then.
OK, fine. Yes, players should get ranking points for playing in the Olympics. But to choose to play some average warm-up events instead of attending the most anticipated athletic events in the world is questionable. Ranking points are great, but where exactly do you keep those on your mantle when your career is over?