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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday July 19, 2021

The Tokyo Olympics will begin this weekend, on July 24, and despite the fact that 13 top-25 men and 7 top-25 women will not be competing, there are tremendous opportunities on the table for all who are participating.

Tennis Express

First off, there is nothing like the Olympic experience and, we’re imagining, that there must be nothing like telling your grandkids that you participated in the Olympic Games, or even won a medal.

Certainly, there are complex factors at work when it comes to the Tokyo Olympics and tennis. Most typical Olympians haven’t been living bubble life for the last 12 months, like the members of the ATP and WTA Tour have been, so it isn’t surprising that many tennis players have opted out for personal reasons, choosing to relax a bit before the summer season begins in North America, rather than flying to Tokyo, only to fly back to the US, and then ultimately back to Europe for the end of the season, going bubble to bubble all the while.

It is easy to underestimate the toll this takes on professional tennis players, mentally, psychologically, spiritually. Bubble boredom is real—and no joke.

And so here we are, preparing for an Olympic tennis event that will be poorly attended. Should that fact dampen our enthusiasm for what promises to be a true sporting spectacle in Tokyo? We say no! Let us not forget what happened in Rio, when attendance was limited due to Zika concerns, and yet still the event produced some of the richest, most compelling drama that the sport has seen in the last decade.

There is also the Olympics-as-springboard premise, which could come into play at Tokyo this year. We saw what happened at the Olympics in 2012, when Andy Murray won Gold and then won his first major title a month later. We saw what happened in 2016 when Monica Puig shocked Rio and claimed gold, changing her life forever.

With that in mind, let’s look at ten players (keeping in mind that there are many more) who could significantly alter the course of their career by coming up with a magical performance at the Tokyo Olympics.

1. Novak Djokovic

The World No.1 announced last week that he’s playing the Olympics and he’s going to compete for the fourth leg of the Golden Slam. The world will be watching as Nole continues his quest and bids to win Olympic gold for the first time – one of the few things that is missing from his tremendous tennis CV.

2. Maria Sakkari

Greece’s top-ranked woman showed the world that she’s very close to winning a major at Roland-Garros this year. She’s capable of winning Gold and for a Greek to achieve that feat, well you can imagine what that would do for Sakkari's star power and confidence. It could be the big step that propels Sakkari to winning a major and reaching the Top 10.

3. Stefanos Tsitsipas

Already a Grand Slam finalist, Stefanos Tsitsipas is clearly knocking on the door of super stardom. He kinda already is a megastar… but… . Tokyo provides Tsitsipas with a shot to prove himself on a big stage and carry the Greek tennis flag to new heights. If he is able to medal, it could be an experience similar to the one that Murray went through in 2012 at London. A victory that gives Tsitsipas the confidence to get to the next level.

4. Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova, a bronze medalist at Rio in 2016, has the game to become the story of the Tokyo Olympics. And wouldn’t it be amazing if the Czech reminded the world of what a freak of nature she can be on a tennis court by taking home the gold medal? Kvitova's always been a fan favorite, and an Olympic run would be an emo moment for the ages.

5. Daniil Medvedev

Similar to Tsitisipas, Medvedev is looking to take that one giant step that gets him over the hump and transforms him to a guy that can not only play Grand Slam finals, but WIN Grand Slam titles.

6. Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka finally had her breakthrough at the majors when she reached the semifinals at Wimbledon. But she still has left some of her potential untapped. A run for Gold at Tokyo could unleash the beast of Sabalenka and help her become a steadier and stronger performer at the Slams down the road.

7. Andrey Rublev

Rublev has been, arguably, one of the five best players in men’s tennis over the last two seasons. Here is his chance to take another step and make a magical moment for himself and Russia. We put Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Rublev in the same category. They are all on their way to becoming Grand Slam champions, but still need big titles to build their confidence. Tokyo could be it for Rublev.

8. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut

The legendary French duo has achieved pretty much everything on the doubles court already, but if they could become the first French tennis players to win Gold in over 100 years, they could seal their fate as national heroes, and maybe even run for president!

9. Felix Auger-Aliassime

It’s big-stage confidence and belief that Felix Auger-Aliassime needs to add to his game. Here is a brilliant chance in Tokyo, where if he shines on the Olympic stage, the positive effects he’d gain might propel him into the top 10 and help him win some titles on tour.

10. Kiki Bertens or Carla Suarez Navarro

Last but not least we look at two WTA legends that will be playing their last Olympics and hanging up their racquets for good not long after. Wouldn’t it be nice if Carla Suarez Navarro or Kiki Bertens could march off to the sunset with a medal around their neck?


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