Djokovic faces former US Open champ in Rio first round


August 05, 2016
Serena Williams (left) and Venus Williams of the United States compete against Sorana Cirstea and Simona Halep of Romania in women's doubles at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London at the 2012 Summer Olympics. AP Photo
Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Austria's Dominic Thiem during their semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, on Friday in Paris. (AP Photo)


Novak Djokovic will face 2009 United States Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in the first round of the Olympics in a rematch of the 2012 bronze medal match.

Del Potro?s ranking has fallen to 145th after he endured three operations on his left wrist. But at his first Grand Slam in two and a half years, he upset fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon last month. The Argentine beat Djokovic for bronze in London four years ago.

The top-ranked Djokovic, a 12-time major champion, is seeking his first Olympic title. A potential semi-final opponent in Rio de Janeiro is third-seeded Rafael Nadal, who hasn?t played since withdrawing from the French Open because of a left wrist injury.

Reigning gold medallist Andy Murray could face fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori in the semifinals. The Wimbledon champion plays 35th-ranked Viktor Troicki in the first round in the 64-player draw, which was announced yesterday. Play starts tomorrow.

Wawrinka and Swiss teammate Roger Federer both pulled out of the Olympics because of injuries, leaving the Rio Games without two of the top four men in the rankings.

In the women?s draw, top-ranked Serena Williams, the reigning gold medallist, could face sister Venus in the semi-finals. Also on her half of the draw is Spain?s Garbine Muguruza, who beat the 22-time major champion in this year?s French Open final. And a potential quarter final opponent is Italy?s Roberta Vinci, who stunned Williams in last year?s US Open semi-finals to end her Grand Slam bid.

The Williams sisters, coming off a Wimbledon title, are seeded first in doubles as they seek their fourth gold medal together.

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