Tennis prepares to fly the flag
Originally published on: 27/07/12 00:00
What do Marcos Baghdatis, Novak Djokovic, Max Mirnyi, Agnieszka Radwanska, Maria Sharapova, Horia Tecau, Stephanie Vogt and Stanislas Wawrinka have in common? They are all tasked with carrying their flag at the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday evening, of course.
That Stanislas Wawrinka carries it for Switzerland is in part thanks to the fact that teammate and fellow doubles gold medallist Roger Federer turned down the opportunity to carry the flag for a third time himself.
"I felt it was important to give someone else a chance,” said the 17-time Grand Slam champion. “I told Switzerland they should choose someone else and they then chose my partner Stan, and I think it's a great honour for him because I couldn't have won Olympic gold without him and everybody knows that. That's why I think they chose the right guy."
For Maria Sharapova, competing in her first Olympic Games, carrying the flag came as a real surprise. "It was huge,” said the Russian, who found out during her title-winning run at Roland Garros. “I had to read the text message five times and read it to other people to make sure I got it correct.”
Meanwhile, none of Team GB’s eight-strong tennis team will be in the Stadium tonight after a collective decision meant they’ll be tuning in to the televised coverage from home. With Laura Robson being handed a place in the singles draw today following the withdrawal of Petra Martic of Croatia, Team GB now has four women competing in the singles.
Though Robson won’t play Lucie Safarova until Sunday, Anne Keothavong takes on Caroline Wozniacki and Elena Baltacha faces Agnes Szavay on Saturday, while the men are in doubles action, with the Murray brothers taking on Austrians Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Peya and Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins facing French pair Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau.
The opening ceremony for the greatest show on the earth begins tonight, Friday 27 July, at 9pm, while play starts at 11.30am on Saturday at the All England Club.