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What’s happening with tennis in Rio?

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)


The Olympics kicks off this weekend and as viewers tune in, especially those into tennis, they might notice that some of the top players are missing. Fans should already know that Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer are missing the Olympics due to circumstances out of their control (Maria due to suspension and Roger due to injury). However as of this moment thirteen other players have decided not to participate in Olympics. One would think that those who have the opportunity to represent their country and compete in the greatest international competition ever would do so. However, for many of the top players the trip to Rio simply isn’t worth it.

As alluring as the beaches of Brazil sound, the possibility of contracting the mosquito-borne Zika virus has scared away some players. On the WTA, world number five, Romanian, Simona Halep has admitted that she isn’t participating because of the Zika virus. Simona said on her Facebook, “After several talks with doctors and my family, I concluded that the risks are too high for my career and for my health, especially as a woman.” Female tennis players aren’t the only ones afraid. On the men’s side top Canadian player, Milos Raonic decided not to make the trip due to health concerns. Milos said to the Canadian press “…I am making this decision for a variety of health concerns including the uncertainty around the Zika virus.” This is the tune for several other players who decided to drop out, whether they clearly said it or not. But for others there are other reasons for not going to Rio.

The tennis season spans many months with a ton of tournaments and for some players adding the Olympics to the calendar is just another burden. John Isner, who is the highest ranked American player on the men’s side, cited “scheduling conflicts” as his reason for skipping Rio. John, like most American men, focus their attention on the summer hardcourt tournaments that lead up to the biggest hardcourt tournament in America, the U.S. Open. That is probably why Sam Querrey, who qualified for the Olympics, also turned down Rio as well.

There just appears to be no incentive for the players to go to Rio this year. Players will not receive ranking points and because there are other tournaments still going on, it means for some, they might lose points, potentially affecting how they are ranked for the U.S. Open. Players must be thinking what is the sense in going when it can hurt their grand slam chances.

Representing your country is an honor however tennis is an international sport so they are always representing their country. Furthermore, there are still tournaments such as Davis Cup and Fed Cup, where players have the opportunity to bring home a title for their country. It is worth noting that many believe that it makes no sense to have the Davis Cup and Fed Cup in the same year as the Olympics.

With all this said, there is good news. Many marquee players are still going to Rio. On the women’s side the Williams sisters are attending. Serena and Venus are looking for their second singles gold medal and their fourth doubles gold medal. On the men’s side three of the “big four” are in attendance. Novak Djokovic will be looking to get his first gold medal in singles. Andy Murray will be looking to defend his gold medal that he earned in London. Rafael Nadal, who hasn’t competed since pulling out at the French Open, is looking to make a triumph return in the Rio. Nadal is making the most of his Olympic experience by participating in three events: singles, double, and mixed doubles.
Despite the many pullouts, tennis will still be very much in the spotlight at the games. Anytime you have all-time greats such as Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, fans know they will be treated to some spectacular play. The Olympics happen once every four years so everyone, fans and players alike should make the most of it.

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Ricardo is the lead Tennis Analyst here at
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