The big news for 2012 tennis: Mixed doubles is in! But only in tennis, not table tennis. Seems a little unfair, really.
They’ll play on grass at Wimbledon, so we’ll let this summer’s results from that hallowed venue weigh heavily in the projections. That said, we have little idea which players will view the Olympics worthy of their participation.
The tournament will be included in the ATP and WTA points races, so that may sway some people.
Men’s singles: The Roger Federer era has given way to the Nadal-Federer era and perhaps the Nadal-Djokovic-Federer era. And yet Andy Murray, a semifinalist at Wimbledon this year, will be carrying the hopes of the home country once again.
2008: Rafael Nadal (Spain), Fernando Gonzalez (Chile), Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
Projection: Rafael Nadal (Spain), Andy Murray (Britain), Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
Top Americans: Mardy Fish was seeded 10th at Wimbledon and made the quarterfinals before falling to Nadal. And does Andy Roddick have another great run in him?
Women’s singles: Unlike men’s singles, women’s singles has been wide open. The Williams sisters are still contenders when willing and able. Caroline Wozniacki has managed to be ranked No. 1 without a major win. Fellow 1990-born player Petra Kvitova beat Maria Sharapova, making a comeback at age 24, in the Wimbledon final. The top three seeds at Wimbledon and the Williams sisters were gone by the quarterfinals. Kim Clijsters is currently No. 2 despite a couple of injuries. None of this evidence leads us anywhere closer to finding a favorite, so let’s assume the youngsters come through.
2008: Elena Dementieva (Russia), Dinara Safina (Russia), Vera Zvonareva (Russia)
Projection: Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark), Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic), Victoria Azarenka (Belarus)
Top Americans: Bethanie Mattek-Sands is ranked 30th. Yes, she’s No. 1 among U.S. players, at least until the Williams sisters play a few tournaments.
Men’s doubles: The Bryan brothers have carved out a nice career as doubles specialists, with a couple of Wimbledon titles among their many trophies. They’re also one of the few doubles teams in which both players are from the same country, a bit of a requirement at the Games. The only other same-country quarterfinalist pair in Wimbledon 2011 was the home team — Britain’s Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins missed out on the semis after a five-set loss. India has two players ranked in the top eight, including Leander Paes, the Washington Kastles’ ace in their unbeaten run through World Team Tennis.
2008: Roger Federer/Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland), Simon Aspelin/Thomas Johansson (Sweden), Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA)
Projection: USA, India, Britain
Top Americans: Aside from the Bryans, Eric Butorac is ranked 20th. Further down the list, John Isner and Sam Querrey have collected some ranking points in sporadic appearances.
Women’s doubles: Only three of the eight Wimbledon quarterfinalists were same-country pairs. But Kveta Peschke, who won Wimbledon with Slovenia’s Katarina Srebotnik, is one of several highly ranked Czech doubles players. The three same-country quarterfinalists were from China, Spain and the USA, which has five of the top 16 doubles players in the rankings. Russia has three of the top 10.
2008: Serena Williams/Venus Williams (USA), Anabel Medina Garrigues/Virginia Ruano Pascual (Spain), Yan Zi/Zheng Jie (China)
Projection: Czech Republic, USA, Russia
Top Americans: Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. They’re fifth and 13th in the rankings, with Vania King in between at seventh. Rounding out the top 16 – Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy.
Mixed doubles: Bob Bryan and Liezel Huber had to withdraw from the Wimbledon quarterfinals. The other same-country pairs in the quarterfinals: Israel’s Jonathan Erlick and Shahar Peer, India’s Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza. This event isn’t played that often, so we don’t have much to go on.
2008: None; new event
Projection: USA, Israel, India
Top Americans: See above
China will not be able to match its medal count from 2008, and that “decline” has nothing to do with home advantage. Countries are now limited to two entries per gender in singles. Each country already only gets one entry per gender in the team events, so that’s a max of six medals per country. And that’s how many China will win, down from eight in 2008. All we’re doing here is picking a favorite in the race for bronze in singles, silver and bronze in team, mostly based on the 2011 World Championships and 2010 World Team Championships, though the results page for the latter is a little inconclusive. At least we have a list of final positions.
Men’s singles: China had six of the eight World Championships quarterfinalists. The exceptions were Germany’s Timo Boll, who reached the semis, and Japan’s Jun Mizutani. Boll is actually ranked second behind Chinese star Wang Hao. Mizutani is sixth, Belarus’s Vladimir Samsonov is seventh and South Korea’s Se Hyuk Joo is 10th. The other seven in the top 11 are all Chinese.
2008: Ma Lin (China), Wang Hao (China), Wang Liqin (China)
Projection: China, China, Germany
Top Americans: The team finished 46th in the 2010 team event, and no one played in the 128-player individual field in 2011. That doesn’t bode well. The highest-ranked U.S. player is Yiyong Fan, who’s 301st.
Women’s singles: One better for China — seven of the eight quarterfinalists. That makes Singapore’s Tianwei Feng our bronze medal favorite by default. The rankings agree — Feng is fifth, the only non-Chinese player in the top seven. A couple of Japanese players and one more from Singapore round out the top 10.
2008: Zhang Yining (China), Wang Nan (China), Guo Yue (China)
Projection: China, China, Singapore
Top Americans: Lily Zhang and Ariel Hsing each participated in the World Championships, losing their first matches. Zhang at least took one game, losing 1-4. The team placed a half-decent 16th in 2010.
Men’s team: China and Germany repeated their 1-2 finish from 2008 in 2010, where South Korea and Japan shared bronze. We’ll flip a coin for the 2012 bronze.
2008: China, Germany, South Korea
Projection: China, Germany, Japan
Women’s team: Shocker in 2010 — Singapore upset China to take the team title, with Japan and Germany sharing bronze. We’ll guess China doesn’t let that happen again. Germany could get home-continent advantage for bronze, but their players aren’t too prominent in the rankings.
2008: China, Singapore, South Korea
Projection: China, Singapore, Japan