The world No.1 in waiting faces a stern test if he is to add Olympic gold to his season's title haul

Nadal faces tough task in Beijing



Originally published on 26/02/10 11:07

If Rafael Nadal is going to leave Beijing with a hefty wad of gold around his neck, he’s going to have to do it the hard way.

The Spaniard has a fairly straightforward-looking first round tie against Italian Potito Starace, but after that the 22-year-old Wimbledon and French Open champion will probably find himself facing a tough crowd.

Former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt is a likely second-round opponent, while in-form Andy Murray is set to meet him in the quarter-finals and Novak Djokovic could await in the semis.

Federer could face Tomas Berdych, who beat him in Athens, in the third round…

Roger Federer, in the opposite half of the draw, looks to have a rather smoother route to the final, although only if he can navigate his way past volatile Russian Dmitry Tursunov in the first round – a far from ideal opponent for the Swiss, struggling with his his form and confidence in recent weeks.

Federer could face Tomas Berdych, the man who beat him in Athens four years ago, in the third round as he looks to win his first Olympic medal at the third time of asking.

Women’s top seed Ana Ivanovic, who like Federer is set to lose her No.1 ranking over the coming weeks, opens against Ukraine’s Mariya Koryttseva, while fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic should cruise past Zimbabwe’s Cara Black.

Venus and Serena Williams are in opposite halves of the draw, and will most likely be favorites to repeat their clash in the Wimbledon singles final, despite both having had to overcome injury to reach the Games. Serena faces Olga Govortsova of Belarus in the first round, while Wimbledon champ Venus is up against Swiss Timea Bacsinszky.

Bob and Mike Bryan top the men’s doubles draw which includes Nadal, who partners Tommy Robredo, and Federer who forms a Swiss pairing with Stanislas Wawrinka. The Americans face the Bahamian duo of Mark Knowles and Devin Mullings in the first round.

Russian pairing Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina are top seeds in the women’s doubles, which brought China gold four years ago. Yan Zi and Zheng Jie, the 2006 Wimbledon and Australian Open champions, carry China’s hopes for gold this time.

Check out the complete draws here.

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