Saturday, August 06, 2016

The men's journey to Olympic gold (with way fewer passengers)

So, I just finished filling out the men's draw for the Rio Games, and let me tell you, that was one big bag of subparsomeness. Going through the first round was so boring that I had to abandon the coffee mug in favor of shoveling spoonfuls of coffee grounds into my mouth just to stay awake. That's what happens when many of the game's best decide to stay home for the Olympics.
The good news is that there's just enough left to be interesting in the later rounds. Let's take a look at what we've got:

You know, one thing that's unbelievable to me is the idea that you can have so few heavy hitters in an Olympic draw and still find Novak Djokovic playing Juan Martin del Potro in the first round. Pardon? I get it -- it's random. But talk about a tough draw for both guys. My heart roots for the injury- and talent-laden del Potro, but reality is trending toward Djokovic.
Another interesting first-round match is Marin Cilic v. Grigor Dimitrov. I don't doubt that Cilic will win, but it should be pretty entertaining at least.
Man, didn't Rafael Nadal look so cute, cheesing away as the Spanish flag-bearer during the opening ceremony last night? He decided last-minute to come to Rio, but with lingering injury issues, I'm not sure he can repeat his gold-medal run from 2008. I've got him in the semis, but Borna Coric or David "Pocket Rocket" Goffin could easily change that. But at least it's good to know that the best player in his country is proud to represent in the biggest sports gathering in the world. (Oh, hey, not talking to you at all, John Isner.)
Assuming Djokovic actually does get out of the first round, it's hard to see him losing to anyone but Andy Murray, who just regulated throughout Wimbledon. Murray has a much easier draw as well. Cilic or Kei Nishikori could be a challenge, too.
The men's doubles draw is out, too. This is really where you miss a team like Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Still, this is an entertaining draw. I could see Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert squaring off in the semis against Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic and in the bottom half, Nadal and Marc Lopez (who is an awesome doubles player) against Vasek Pospisil and Danny Nestor.
Next post up: the women, who unlike the men, actually showed up to Rio in good number.

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