Federer to set gold standard
Derek Bilton previews the men's tennis at the Olympics and he's siding with Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.
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4pts Roger Federer to win gold at 15/8 (Bodog).
2pts e.w. Tomas Berdych to win gold at 40/1 (Boylesports).
Injury means that Rafael Nadal will not be defending his Olympic title in London, but aside from the Spanish idol all the big guns are out hunting for gold at SW19 from July 28 to August 5.
The event, on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon, is the first to take place on grass since tennis was re-introduced to the Olympic schedule.
All eyes will again be on Andy Murray, the Brit who captured a nation's heart but not a much sought Grand Slam title at Wimbledon just a few short weeks ago.
Murray enjoyed his best ever run at The Championships, and the British number one recently described Olympic gold as "the pinnacle in any sport".
The world number four made his Olympic debut in Beijing four years ago, but was stunned in china in the first round by the unheralded Lu Yen-hsun.
He should definitely go a bit deeper into the draw this time round, but his first round encounter against practice partner Stanislas Wawrinka.
Swiss ace Wawrinka is a handful on his day but in truth prefers slower terrain, and Murray has won six out of 10 previous matches against the Swiss.
The third seed will have his backers at these Games, but in truth he has been handed a nightmare draw and it's not inconceivable that he won't see the business end of proceedings again.
Tomas Berdych is in his quarter, a Czech powerhouse who like Murray is a former Wimbledon finalist.
Berdych has had an indifferent summer, and was a shock first round casualty at Wimbledon recent when Ernests Gulbis put him away in three sets.
However his power game is perfectly suited to this type of surface, with the world number seven already having a title on grass to his name (Halle - 2007).
He's not mortgage job by any means, but 40/1 looks huge if he can get his head down and go on a run in London.
Talking of mortgage jobs though, I reckon it's hard to look beyond Roger Federer in this event.
Federer won his first Grand Slam in over two years (his 17th in all) the other week when he beat Murray at Wimbledon. That win returned him to number one in the world and was also a record-tying seventh Wimbledon title.
Nobody does it on grass quite like 'The Fed Express', who will be brimming with confidence and who to boot has been handed a plumb draw.
The likes of Murray, Berdych, world number two Novak Djokovic and dangerous floaters such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic are all in the bottom half, meaning 'Roggie' should reach at least the semi-final without breaking much of a sweat.
From there look for him to make his Wimbledon experience count, and don't think the great man won't be motivated. For all his riches and flawless talent, the only glaring omission on his resume is an Olympic singles gold medal.
In 2000 he lost in the last four to Tommy Haas, while in 2004 Berdych claimed the most famous win of his career to that point by beating Roger in Athens. James Blake edged him out in Beijing before the medal stage in 2008, so the Swiss knows this is probably his last (and best, with Nadal absent) chance for gold.
I'll leave the last word to Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who once wrote 'Talent does what it can: Genius does what it must'.
- Preview posted at 1010 BST on 27/07/2012.