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Olympics: Federer handed kind draw

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Originally published on: 26/07/12 00:00

Roger Federer was handed one of the kinder draws for the Olympic tennis event on Thursday, with proven grass court players Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych all on the opposite side of the draw.

Instead Federer will be joined by the likes of Fernando Verdasco, John Isner, Janko Tipsarevic, David Ferrer, Kei Nishikori, Gilles Simon and Juan Martin del Potro in the top half. 

Murray, meanwhile, faces a stern test against Federer's compatriot, Stanislas Wawrinka, in one of the standout first round matches. They’ve met 10 times on the ATP Tour with the Scot holding a 6-4 advantage. Their last meeting came in Shanghai, in 2011, when Murray won in three sets, and the last time they met on grass was in 2008, under the roof in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, when Murray won a tight five-setter 2-6 6-3 6-3 5-7 6-3.

Wimbledon champion Federer opens his campaign against left-handed Colombian Alejandro Falla, currently ranked No.51 in the world, having won all five of their previous encounters, albeit after fighting back from two sets down in their previous clash – a memorable first round bout at Wimbledon in 2010.

Djokovic, who won bronze in Beijing in 2008, plays Fabio Fognini, while Lleyton Hewitt faces Sergiy Stakhovsky and Frenchman Tsonga meets Brazil’s Tomaz Bellucci. Ivan Dodig of Croatia plays del Potro, while David Nalbandian is up against Janko Tipsarevic and 6’9”American Isner plays 5’6” Belgian Oliver Rochus.

Contesting his first Olympics, Bernard Tomic faces fellow hotly-tipped future star Kei Nishikori of Japan. The pair have never met on tour, but at 19 and 22-years-old, respectively, both players carry the hopes of their nations into the Olympic event.

The top half of the women’s draw contains seeds Victoria Azarenka, Nadia Petrova, Sara Errani, Angelique Kerber, Serena Williams, Vera Zvonareva, Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki, while the bottom half consists of seeded players Sam Stosur, Ana Ivanovic, Sabine Lisicki, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Dominika Cibulkova, Maria Kirilenko and Agnieszka Radwanska.

Featuring for Team GB, Anne Keothavong plays former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki and Elena Baltacha meets Agnes Szavay. The latter pair have met once before, in Seoul in 2010, when the Hungarian won in straight sets. Heather Watson, the last player to enter the draw following the withdrawal of Alona Bondarenko, is up against Spain’s Silvia Soler Espinosa. Currently ranked at No.67, the 20-year-old from Guernsey faces an interesting task against a player aged 24 and ranked 63, both four years older and four higher in the rankings.

Other interesting first round matches include Agnieszka Radwanska and Julia Goerges of Germany; Ana Ivanovic and Christina McHale of USA, Jelena Jankovic of Serbia against Serena Williams and Sara Errani against Venus Williams. No.1 seed Victoria Azarenka plays Irina Camelia Begu of Romania.

The order of play for Saturday is released on Friday, only then will we know which part of the draw will start on the opening day of London 2012.

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