Mon, September 23, 2013

Olympic draw deals a blow to Raonic

By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency


Any thoughts of Milos Raonic winning an Olympic medal basically disappeared Thursday when the tennis draw was announced at Wimbledon. (REUTERS)


LONDON - Any thoughts of Milos Raonic winning an Olympic medal basically disappeared Thursday when the tennis draw was announced at Wimbledon.

It will be an encumbrance for the Canadian hopeful with the big serve.

While Raonic's first-round match -- against Japan's Tatsuma Ito -- is winnable, it's after that Raonic will run into particularly difficult opposition. In the second round, barring upset, he would face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, the world's No. 6 player. And should Raonic somehow get past Tsonga -- which is a stretch -- he would be scheduled to take on Novak Djokovic, the best player in the world the past two years, in the quarterfinals.

In order to even compete for a medal, Raonic would have to beat the second and fifth seeds at the Olympics -- and realistically, that's not going to happen.

It wasn't much more promising for the other men in the singles competition for Canada. Vasek Pospisil, ranked 85th in the world, opens up against No. 4 seed David Ferrer. That's a large uphill climb for Pospisil.

On the women's side of the draw, Aleksandra Wozniak is not in the same difficulty as Raonic but isn't expected to go far in singles play. She opens with a match against Marina Erakovic of New Zealand, a player of a similar level to the Canadian champion. The winner will face the winner of American Venus Williams and Sara Errani, the No. 9 seed for Italy. Even with a first-round win, a second-round advancement would be unlikely for Wozniak.

Wozniak will team with Stephanie Dubois in doubles to take on the Kazak team of Yaroslava Shvedova and Galina Voskoboeva.

The best shot for a Canadian medal in double, not surprisingly, will be on the men's side, where world No. 1 Daniel Nestor teams up with Pospisil.

In their opening match, they will be tested by the Romanian team of Horia Tecau and Adrian Ungur. But on their side of the draw the top-seeded Americans, Mike and Bob Bryan, will have to be dealt with as will the third-seeded Serbian team of Janko Tipsarevic and Nestor's former partner, Nenad Zimonjic.

Tennis at the Olympics begins Saturday.