Novak Djokovic, the World No. 1 and top seed in Rio, is out of the Olympics. Djokovic lost on Sunday evening to Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in straight sets 7-6, 7-6. The result really opens up the draw for JMD as he now has a great look at going deep in the tournament, perhaps even all the way to the final.
For Djokovic, the loss will certainly raise a lot of questions. The Serb won the French Open earlier this season, but then suffered an early-round loss at Wimbledon. He hinted after that loss that he was not at 100% although it’s never been clear what he was referring to. The Serb did come back and win the Canadian Masters a week ago, but that was in a draw that was depleted of numerous top players. With Djokovic losing to del Potro, you have to wonder who the result reflects on more: does it reveal that there is something wrong with Djokovic right now or does it show that JMD is a player who is finally getting back to his best.
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I think that many are taking for granted that del Potro is effectively ‘back,’ but, regardless of the opponent, it takes more than one win to make a champion. An important point to note is that del Potro did get a big victory in the Wimbledon draw last month, one that he was not able to back up. His fans will remember that the Argentine defeated Stan Wawrinka in the 2nd round at the All England Club only to fall to Lucas Pouille in the third. Whether del Potro is back or not is a question that needs to be looked at over the entire Rio tournament, not with just one win.
But Del Potro, after improving to 4-11 against Djokovic, effectively high-jacked the tournament’s top seed as that will be his perspective on the draw now. He will next face Joao Sousa, a half-decent player, but one that the Argentine should defeat. Surviving that, del Potro would face either Kyle Edmund of Britain or Taro Daniel of Japan, two fairly-unproven players on the men’s tour.
Should del Potro fall in the 2nd round or 3rd round, then I would be more prone to believe that the victory over Djokovic is more reflective of a problem in the World No. 1’s camp. However, if del Potro backs the win up with a run to a match for a medal then I would be expecting ‘the del Potro of old’ again for as long as his health holds up.
Other key players that advanced in Rio on Sunday included Andy Murray, the defending Olympic gold medalist from London. The Scot defeated Viktor Troicki in straight sets, and he will next face Juan Monaco. Monaco, who is also from Argentina, is capable of beating Murray however the veteran is more dangerous on clay than the hard-court surface.
David Ferrer and David Goffin are two other notable players that advanced on Sunday. Meanwhile Nick Kyrgios, in non-Olympic tennis news, claimed the 2nd title of his ATP career as he defeated John Isner in the final of ATP Atlanta.
For Monday action at Rio, tennis fans can look forward to a match between Gilles Muller and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Gael Monfils, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Marin Cilic, and Kei Nishikori are also scheduled to play 2nd-round matches on Monday.