The men’s singles tennis tournament looks set to be one of the highlights of the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer, with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray resuming their ongoing rivalry.
Action gets under way on August 6, but world number three Roger Federer will not be at the Games as he will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
The presence of Rafael Nadal, who won gold for Spain in Beijing eight years ago, is also in doubt as he is trying to recover from an injury. The 30-year-old was scheduled to be Spain’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremony, as well as playing mixed doubles with Garbine Muguruza.
Czech tennis players Jiri Vesely and Tomas Berdych have pulled out, with Canada’s Milos Raonic among the other players to withdraw due to fears over the Zika virus.
Despite a series of high-profile absentees, the presence of both Djokovic and Murray at the Games is sure to bring a lot of attention on to the men’s singles event.
Djokovic – looking to bounce back from his shock early exit at Wimbledon – has made Olympic glory one of his top priorities for 2016 and he is unconcerned about the impact of the Zika virus.
“I did get more information on it – and my decision is to go to the Olympic Games,” the Serbian said. “For me, it’s safe enough and I’m going to go.”
As ever, Djokovic starts as the favourite and he is priced at 5/6 to claim gold. His main rival is likely to be Murray, who will be full of confidence after claiming his second Wimbledon title.
Murray – priced at 3/1 to win the gold medal – beat Federer in the 2012 final in London and he recently said: “I love being involved in the Olympics, hopefully I can have a good run there.”
Where does the betting value lie?
Nadal’s odds of 14/1 reflect the fact there are severe doubts over his fitness levels, with Federer’s absence opening the door for the next generation to have a strong impact at the Games.
Established names are in the frame too, however. Stan Wawrinka will fly the flag for Switzerland in the absence of Federer and he is offered at 14/1 to claim gold, while the hard courts being used could favour Kei Nishikori of Japan, who can be backed at 10/1 to win the tournament.
Juan Martin del Potro has finally recovered from a wrist injury that has plagued his career and he leads Argentina’s tennis squad at the Games. The 27-year-old won the bronze medal three years ago and is priced up at 80/1 to collect gold in Rio.
Frenchman Richard Gasquet has withdrawn with a back injury, but his compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looks decent value at 60/1 after performing well at Wimbledon recently.
David Goffin of Belgium could be the man to upset the favourites and odds of 55/1 are very tempting, while German teenager Alexander Zverev is offered at the same massive price. They could be worthwhile each way selections.
The large odds on offer throughout the field are a clear sign of how confident the bookmakers are that Djokovic and Murray are the men to beat.
With Djokovic looking strangely vulnerable following his loss at Wimbledon, Murray’s odds of 3/1 to win gold again may provide the best value in the market.