Daniil Medvedev says it is a "joke" that players do not have longer at changeovers but will not "cry about the heat" after coming through his Tokyo 2020 opener, while Novak Djokovic started at a canter as he looks to add the next step of a Golden Slam.

Representing the Russian Olympic Committee, Medvedev appeared fatigued at times in his 6-4 7-6 (10-8) triumph over Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik at the Ariake Tennis Park.

The conditions in the Japanese capital were sweltering on Saturday but Novak Djokovic was able to keep his cool in coasting to a 6-2 6-2 win against Hugo Dellien.

MEDVEDEV CALLS FOR MORE TIME

Medvedev, who saved three of four break points and now has a 3-0 head-to-head record over Bublik, was pretty pointed about what he feels should be done about the heat.

"Like they do in Mexico, the matches maybe should start at six (pm) because the heat actually gets much, much lighter. We all try to practise at six," said Olympics debutant Medvedev, who next plays Sumit Nagal.

"The fact that we have only one minute between changeovers is a joke. If you ask, let's say 200 tennis players that are here, I think 195 will tell you that one minute is a joke. It should be 1:30.

"But you have to play, that's the Olympics, you go for the medal. You're not here to cry about the heat. It was really tough for both of us. We talked about this after the match on the court. It was unbelievably hot. But you need to get through it."

Fellow Russian athlete Aslan Karatsev (11) defeated Tommy Paul 6-3 6-2 to set up a meeting with Jeremy Chardy, while Lorenzo Sonego (13), Ugo Humbert (14), Fabio Fognini (15) and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (16) all progressed.

 

DJOKOVIC UP AND RUNNING

Since winning bronze in Beijing 13 years ago, Djokovic has not had the best of luck at the Olympics – losing in 2012 and 2016 to Juan Martin del Potro on both occasions.

But with a host of big hitters from the ATP absent – including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite in Tokyo.

Only Steffi Graf in 1988 from either the WTA or ATP Tour has ever completed a sweep of all four slams and an Olympic gold in a calendar year, and Djokovic needs Olympic gold and victory at the US Open to match the feat.

He needed just 61 minutes here to beat Dellien of Bolivia.

MURRAY SCORES UPSET DOUBLES WIN

Andy Murray is the two-time defending men's singles champion in Tokyo, but struggles with injuries mean it would take a herculean effort to make it three in a row.

But he is also representing Great Britain in the doubles and together with Joe Salisbury upset French second seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-3 6-2 in their first time competing with one another.

Murray is not looking too far ahead, though, saying: "You take one match at a time, you know, so a lot of the players here are really motivated to play for their country. 

"This is such a rare opportunity for all of us and I think we all want to do well. So, yeah, just take it one match at a time."

Nina Christen of Switzerland finished 16th in the 10-metre air rifle at the Rio Olympics, but she became a footnote to history five years later as the first athlete to secure a medal at Tokyo 2020.

The 27-year-old locked up the bronze medal several minutes before China's Yang Qian beat Anastasiia Galashina of the Russian Olympic Committee to take gold in the first medal event of the Games.

As soon as she was eliminated from contention for the final two, Christen flashed a smile and waved, knowing she had at least won a spot on the podium this time – no small feat on this stage.

After the first medal ceremony of the Tokyo Games, she spoke about the pressure as the competition entered the final rounds.

"You just try to not reach your head out for the medal before you have the medal," Christen said. "That is the worst thing you could do. Having in your mind, 'Oh I could win a medal, or I could be eighth which would be a failure'.

"So you just try not to think about both of them, you just try and think about what your job is like breathing, holding, aiming, balance, triggering, and then follow through.

"It helps to not think about what is behind you and obviously there are a lot of cameras and a lot of people. And it would be even more if COVID would not have hit. So yeah that is the thing you have to do, otherwise you would just crack."

 

Sixth seed Swiatek rolls in tennis opener

Two seeded players enjoyed easy victories in the women's singles draw as play began at the Ariake Tennis Park.

Sixth-seeded Iga Swiatek of Poland, the 2020 French Open champion, cruised past Germany's Mona Barthel 6-2 6-2 to open her first Olympics.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 11th seed representing the Russian Olympic Committee, had an even easier time in a 6-0 6-1 rout of Italy's Sara Errani.

Pavlyuchenkova will face Germany's Anna-Lena Friedsam, who upset Great Britain's Heather Watson 7-6 6-3 in another early match.

In doubles, there was an eye-catching result for Britain's Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury, who took out French second seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, scoring a 6-3 6-2 victory.

 

Men's gymnastics gets under way

Nikita Nagornyy turned in the strongest showing in the opening group as men's gymnastics got under way.

Nagornyy, who won the all-around at the 2019 World Championships and was part of Russia's silver medal-winning team at Rio 2016, posted an 87.897 to lead subdivision one, which included gymnasts from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), China, Ukraine and Spain along with individuals from other nations.

But his showing was not enough to put the Russians on top, as China earned the top score in the group with a 262.061 to the ROC's 261.945. The top eight ranked teams qualify for the team final, with two subdivisions still to compete Saturday.

"I don't think our team was really good today, but we made our best effort," Nagronyy said. "We have a lot to do."

 

Brazilians start strongly on the beach

Brazil's two returning beach volleyball medallists are off to a strong start five years later.

Alison Cerutti won gold in Rio and is teamed with new partner Alvaro Morais Filho for Tokyo. They won their opening match 2-0 against Argentina's Nicolas Capogrosso and Julian Amado Azaad.

On the women's side, Rio silver medallist Agatha Bednarczuk, also with a new partner in Eduarda Santos Lisboa, won by the same score against Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereyra of Argentina.

While she was happy to advance, Agatha found the difference between Rio's raucous crowds and Tokyo's COVID-driven quiet jarring.

"It's so different. In Brazil we have the biggest support there. Many, many people cheering for us, and here, it's silence," she said.

"Here we need to put our emotion (aside) because we don't receive the emotion from the people. For me, this is very important because I like to play with emotions."

Hugo Gaston showed admirable spirit as the young Frenchman saved four match points in a gripping tie-break against Cristian Garin en route to reaching his first ATP Tour semi-final.

Garin, the fourth seed, responded impressively to going a set down and then got to match point four times in their third-set tie-break, but he could not hold his nerve and Gaston got the job done 6-4 1-6 7-6 (13-11).

The Chilean was on the back foot right from the start Gaston broke him in the first game, and although Garin did hit back to make it 3-3, his opponent quickly had the advantage again and went on to seal the first set.

Garin's response was emphatic and clinical, dropping just three points on his serve and taking both of the break points that came his way to level the match.

The pair could not be separated in a back-and-forth third set, but Garin was the first to get match point at 6-5 in the tie-break – they would trade another six equally between them before Gaston finally prevailed at 13-11, leaving the 20-year-old satisfied.

"I am very happy to be in my first [ATP Tour] semi-final," Gaston said after.

"It was a great fight. It was a really long match. I always tried to play my game, and it is a good win for me. I hope I can continue like that."

Up next for Gaston will be Laslo Djere after he saw off Arthur Rinderknech 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4, while Casper Ruud – the highest seed remaining – is also into the final four.

The Norwegian was victorious at the Swedish Open last week, his second title of the year, and dispatched Benoit Paire on Friday to reach another semi.

Ruud won 6-2 5-7 6-3 in just under two hours and will face Vit Kopriva, a qualifier, who secured his first semi-final appearance thanks to a stunning 6-1 6-0 win over Mikael Ymer.

At the Croatia Open in Umag, top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas cruised into the last four with a straightforward 6-2 6-1 defeat of Stefano Travaglia, setting up a meeting with either Filip Krajinovic or Carlos Alcaraz.

The other semi will be contested between Richard Gasquet and Daniel Altmaier, who produced something of a shock by ousting second seed Dusan Lajovic 6-2 6-4.

The veteran Frenchman came through against Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-6 (9-7), clinching the second set at the fourth opportunity.

The men's road cycling race is a standout event as dreams will turn into a reality a year later than athletes might have hoped for at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

After Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony on Friday, Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar will be striving to light up the opening day of competition.

Pogacar goes for gold less than a week after the Slovenian sensation retained his Tour title in Paris and it will be an incredible achievement if he is on top of the podium again.

There will also be archery, judo, shooting, taekwondo and weightlifting titles up for grabs on the first day of the Games 12 months after they were due to be contested.

Stats Perform pick out what to look out for on Saturday.

 

POGACAR FACES ANOTHER HUGE STAMINA TEST

Pogacar dominated the Tour de France and is the favourite to follow that up with Olympic gold in what promises to be a thrilling road race.

His compatriot Primoz Roglic is another strong contender for gold, while Canada's Michael Woods and Spaniard Alejandro Valverde will start the race with high hopes of securing a medal.

Belgian duo Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert are also expected to be in the mix.

The 234-kilometre course starts at Musashinonomori Park and finishes at the Fuji International Speedway and features five big ascents, including one on Mount Fuji.

 

HIGH HOPES FOR JAPANESE JUDOKAS

There will be no spectators to provide support, but that is not expected to stop Japanese judokas from setting the standard once again.

The host nation has 39 gold, 19 silver and 26 bronze medals in judo, making it the only sport the country tops the all-time Olympic medal table in.

Naoki Ogata, technical operations manager with the International Judo Federation, is setting the bar high with his expectations on home soil.

"No doubt, we want a gold medal in all weight categories," said Ogata.

 

DJOKOVIC IN HUNT FOR GOLDEN SLAM

Novak Djokovic has already won three of the four majors this year and an Olympic title would leave him heading to the US Open knowing victory would complete the Golden Slam.

The world number one from Serbia plays Hugo Dellien of Bolivia when the men's singles starts on Saturday, while Poland's Iga Swiatek is among the standout players in action in the women's singles - which she begins against Mona Barthel.

There is also women's and men's doubles action on Saturday. 

The pick of the other events to be getting under way will be artistic gymnastics, badminton, swimming, boxing, hockey and rowing.

Naomi Osaka will make her playing entry to the Olympic Games a day later than expected after her first-round tennis match was put back to Sunday.

Japan's big hope for gold will play China's Zheng Saisai in her opener at the Ariake Tennis Park.

The match was billed to be first on the centre court at 11:00 local time on Saturday, only for Games organisers to announce it has been moved back by a day.

The move came amid mounting expectation that Osaka would have a prominent role to play in Friday's opening ceremony, meaning she would have little time to rest between taking part in that event and playing Zheng.

Osaka abandoned her French Open campaign after one match, having been warned she risked expulsion for refusing to take part in news conferences during the tournament.

The reigning US Open and Australian Open champion, who has spoken of struggling with anxiety and depression, then elected to skip Wimbledon.

Defending double Olympic champion Andy Murray revealed how his daughter provided him with inspiration after his early exit at Wimbledon.

A heavy third-round defeat by Denis Shapovalov had left the Scot questioning whether his hard work in training was worth it after years of injury woe as he tried to regain his spot at tennis' top table.

The two-time Wimbledon winner, who has four young children, now feels prepared and revitalised to compete in his fourth Games off the back of his young daughter's accidental wisdom.

Murray told reporters: "When I got home, the day after my match, my daughter said to me: 'Daddy, you're home because you lost another tennis match?'

"I said: 'Yeah, I did. But what do you do when you lose at something?' And she said: 'You try and try again?' I was like: 'Yeah, that's what I want to do.'

"I want to keep playing because I enjoy it and I still think I can play at a good level. 

"There have been difficult moments obviously in the last few months and the last year with the injuries and stuff, but right now this is the healthiest I've been for the longest period in the last year."

Murray will be part of a six-man squad in Japan, including doubles partner and two-time grand slam doubles winner Joe Salisbury, as he looks to defend his Rio 2016 and London 2012 golds.

As the only player to win back-to-back singles titles in Olympic history, Murray still intends to compete at the top-level of tennis for as long as he is able to do so.

"It can be hard and after tough losses like that at Wimbledon - you question a lot of things," the Team GB athlete added to BBC Sport.

"I do still feel like I am capable of playing high-level tennis and when that isn't the case I will stop playing. But right now I don't believe that is the case."

Yet the Games in Japan provides a completely different challenge in 2021 as all athletes remain acutely aware of the coronavirus concerns that surround sport all over the world.

The 34-year-old's Team GB team-mate Johanna Konta is one of many players to miss out due to circumstances linked to the virus.

Murray, who was drawn against ninth seed and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday, is familiar with the devastating impact a positive result can have after having to miss a major due to COVID-19.

"It happened to me before the Australian Open and I was gutted," he said.

"Thankfully I was able to compete in another grand slam a few months later, but if you've been preparing for something for five years and something like that to happens to you, it would be brutal.

"So there is an anxiousness, but from what I've seen everyone is taking the protocols seriously, so hopefully there won't be too many issues."

Murray will be hoping for few issues on the court too, though he and Salisbury have been drawn in a difficult tie against second-seeded pair Pierre Hugues-Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

Top seed Denis Shapovalov's Swiss Open Gstaad campaign came to an abrupt end as Vit Kopriva provided a second-round shock to eliminate the Wimbledon semi-finalist.

The world number 10, who has recently been praised by both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, took the first set 6-2 with ease before Kopriva, making his ATP Tour debut this week, emphatically fought back 6-3 6-2 to secure a memorable comeback victory.

Number three seed Casper Ruud battled past Dennis Novak 6-4 7-6 (7-5), while Benoit Paire, who only had two ATP wins in 2021 before the Hamburg European Open last week, was 6-4 to the good before Tallon Griekspoor was forced to retire due to injury.

Ruud, who has already won two ATP events in 2021 and three in his career, will now meet sixth seed Paire in the quarter-final stage.

But eighth seed Feliciano Lopez did not enjoy similar success as the world number 96 Mikael Ymer fought past the Spaniard to win 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 and set-up a quarter-final clash with Kopriva.

At the Umag Open in Croatia, third seed Filip Krajinovic breezed past Radu Albot to record a 6-4 6-2 win.

Krajinovic's countryman and number two ranked player Dusan Lajovic also went through with a 7-5 6-4 win against Bernabe Zapata Miralles.

Novak Djokovic has been burned by high expectations at the Olympics before, so it was little surprise that he should express only guarded optimism on the eve of the Tokyo Games.

The Serbian, who has won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon already in 2021, is chasing the gold medal that would leave him one step away from the first tennis calendar 'Golden Slam' by a man.

Should he triumph in Japan over the next fortnight, Djokovic will head to the US Open in late August needing to win in New York to complete the full set.

Steffi Graf, who in 1988 won all the slams and gold at the Seoul Olympics, is the only player in tennis history to have completed such a sensational season.

Djokovic said such a feat was becoming a "more and more realistic" target, as he spoke in a Serbia team news conference, but the last time he stepped off the singles court at an Olympic Games, he was in tears, having lost in the first round at Rio to Juan Martin del Potro.

There is no danger of Djokovic running into his Olympic nemesis in Tokyo, with Del Potro, who also beat Djokovic in a bronze-medal match at the London 2012 Olympics, not a part of Argentina's squad as he battles back from four knee operations.

Looking at his own prospects for Tokyo and the rest of the year, Djokovic said: "It is still a long way to go ... I put myself in a very good position. But I will take things very slowly and cautiously.

"It's an approach I need to have because in the past I wasn't probably fully experienced in that approach. And I started to feel there were a lot of distractions around that influenced my performance.

"I know there are a lot of things on the line, a lot of history on the line. I'm privileged to be in this position. I worked very hard to be here, with my team, of course. But let's talk about history if everything goes great."

After his singles loss in Rio, Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic lost in the second round of doubles to Brazilians Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo.

A bronze from Beijing 2008 is all Djokovic has to show for his Olympics career to date, but he is a hot favourite for the title in Tokyo, where he will start against Bolivia's world number 139 Hugo Dellien.

The 34-year-old Djokovic said he "would be delighted to ask" Graf how she achieved her 1988 clean sweep.

"When I was thinking about her ultimate achievement ... I did not think it... I don't want to say 'achievable', but [I thought] there was a slim chance that someone could make it again, both male and female," Djokovic said.

"But right now it seems more and more realistic. Of course, it is one of my goals and dreams."

Djokovic has neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal as rivals in Tokyo, with Federer missing after reporting a knee injury setback and Nadal electing to give the event a miss.

The 'Big Three' each have 20 grand slam titles now, following Djokovic's hot streak, and the Serbian admits it is unusual for both superstars to be absent.

"I have not experienced too many big tournaments in the past 15 years without Roger and Rafa playing. So it's a little bit strange," Djokovic said. "I'm used to seeing at least one of them. But still, some of the best players in the world are here.

"The guys who are in the top six, seven in the world, they are the biggest competitors or candidates for winning a medal. But potentially I am meeting with them in the later rounds."

After winning Wimbledon for a sixth time, Djokovic surprised many by claiming he could skip the Olympics, but he was reeled in by the appeal of representing his country, perhaps for the final time in the Games.

"Without the key element of any sports events – the crowds, the fans, that energy – it's different, but it is still the Olympic Games," he said.

"I was in a dilemma for a little bit, but I decided to come, and I'm glad because there are many more things that are beautiful about the Olympic Games. So I will try to focus on those things."

Andy Murray feels claiming an Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020 would be the greatest achievement of his illustrious tennis career.

Set to take part in his fourth Games as he looks to defend the singles title he won at London 2012 and successfully retained at Rio 2016, Murray knows this tournament is likely to be his last at the Olympics.

A creditable and entertaining run to the third round of Wimbledon came amid questions over his long-term future in the game after several years of injury woe.

After losing to Denis Shapovalov at the All England Club, Murray has been drawn to play against another Canadian, Felix Auger-Aliassime, in Tokyo.

He will also play in the men’s doubles alongside Joe Salisbury, with a tough draw in that competition too against Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

Despite having three grand slam wins, two Olympic titles and a doubles silver medal to his name, Murray believes a podium place in Japan – which he feels is possible – would be a crowning achievement after all he has been through. 

"That is the goal, to try and win another medal," Murray told reporters. "I'm aware that it is not going to be easy. 

"I'm also in a slightly different position to what I was four, five years ago when I would’ve been expected to get one. 

"Maybe that is not the case this time around, but for me, it would probably be my best achievement if I could do that after everything that’s gone on the last few years. 

"I'm motivated for that reason alone and I still believe that I can do that. I still believe that it is possible."

Now 34, it is by no means certain Murray will still be playing and competitive on the ATP Tour by the time the 2024 Olympics take place in Paris.

"I know that this could be the last [Olympics] for me," added the Briton.

"So I want to go out there and leave everything out on the court, fight for every single point because ultimately that’s all you can do."

Having beaten Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro in his two Olympic finals, Murray – who revealed he has practiced well and regularly since Wimbledon - hopes his experience of going all the way at the Games will work in his favour.

He added to BBC Sport: "I've prepared as best as I can. I have tough draws in singles and doubles but I think I have a chance.

"If I can get through a round or two I'll start to feel more comfortable. I also have the experience of playing in the Olympics, which I can use to my advantage."

Ash Barty and home favourite Naomi Osaka start their respective quests for Olympic gold against Sara Sorribes Tormo and Zheng Saisai, while Novak Djokovic opens against Hugo Dellien.

In a stacked women's draw, world number one and Wimbledon champion Barty has a tough opening assignment and could face French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 13th seed, as early as round three.

Spectators may not be in attendance at Tokyo venues for the Olympics but Japanese fans will be rooting for Osaka, who returns to action after a two-month hiatus with the four-time grand slam winner having spoken openly about mental health and anxiety issues.

Viktorija Golubic or Maria Camila Osorio Serrano would await Osaka if she can get through round one, but a dream final with Barty is no shoo-in given 15 of the world's top 20 on the WTA Tour are in action including each of the nine leading the race for the 2021 WTA Finals.

Aryna Sabalenka (3), Elina Svitolina (4), Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova (5), Iga Swiatek (6) and Garbine Muguruza are all featuring in Tokyo.

 

The men's side has been hit by a spate of withdrawals, with Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem among those not playing in the Japanese capital.

The main talking point surrounds whether the all-conquering Djokovic can continue his march towards a calendar Golden Slam – a sweep of all four majors and an Olympic gold in the same year.

Any notion of a free ride for the Serbian is wide of the mark, though. His side of the draw could see him come up against Andrey Rublev (5), Alexander Zverev (4) and Hubert Hurkacz (7), while Stefano Tsitsipas (3) – beaten by Djokovic in the French Open final – and Daniil Medvedev (2) are among the potential final opponents.

Andy Murray, gold medal winner in 2012 and 2016, faces Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime in a tricky first-round match.

Novak Djokovic has leapt from one bubble into another as he attempts to become the first man in tennis history to win all four grand slams and Olympic gold in the same year.

The only men to have won each of the singles majors across their careers, plus Olympic gold, are Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal, and now Djokovic aims to move to the brink of winning all five in his remarkable 2021 season.

Fresh from dominating at Wimbledon, and with the Australian and French Open titles already in the bag, Djokovic heads into the Tokyo Games as a red-hot favourite, seeking to set himself up to complete a historic campaign at the US Open.

Naomi Osaka will enter the Games with almost as much expectation behind her too, the reigning US Open and Australian Open champion eyeing glory for hosts Japan.

But tennis has thrown up a host of shock results in its short Olympic history. Here, Stats Perform looks at the sport's place in the Games.

 

WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT, AND WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have all opted out of the Olympics.

Williams made her mind up prior to suffering a leg injury at Wimbledon, although she is already a member of the career Golden Slam club.

Federer reached his decision after revealing he also suffered a physical setback at the All England Club, and Nadal elected to take a two-month break after relinquishing his French Open title.

Don't expect to see them again at the Olympics, given Williams and Federer will be pushing 43 by Paris 2024, and Nadal will be 38. Federer won a doubles gold with Stan Wawrinka in 2008, but his singles peak was the silver medal he earned in 2012, Andy Murray crushing Swiss hopes in the final at Wimbledon.

Dominic Thiem, Bianca Andreescu, Nick Kyrgios, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and Denis Shapovalov are among other confirmed absentees, with fitness issues a factor for some, less so for others.

The COVID-19 crisis is a mitigating factor in why so many stars are staying away, and directly responsible in the case of some players, such as Britain's Johanna Konta and Dan Evans, who both tested positive recently.

But tennis was only fully restored to the Olympic programme in 1988, after being dropped post 1924, and if players are seen to be favouring the grand slams over the Games, that is not such a great look for the sport.

At a time when the International Olympic Committee has shown it is willing to shake up the sports on its programme, tennis could perhaps do with a headline-making Tokyo 2020.

Murray, the two-time defending men's champion, will target an improbable hat-trick. A hat-trick for the injury-hit former world number one would be a sensation, and Osaka landing gold in the women's tournament would surely be one of the great moments of the Games.

 

DJOKOVIC FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GRAF

When Steffi Graf beat Gabriela Sabatini in the women's singles final at Seoul, it completed what we know now as the calendar 'Golden Slam'. She had already won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, and the feat of the then 19-year-old West German has yet to be repeated.

Now Djokovic is three-fifths of the way to a similar clean sweep of the majors and the Olympics, with the US Open getting under way on August 30 in New York.

He teetered on not going to Tokyo, and perhaps he is to some extent endangering his chances at Flushing Meadows by spending more time travelling and enduring bubble life, while others rest up.

But Djokovic is a fiercely proud Serbian and could not resist a great chance of winning gold for his country. He landed bronze at the 2008 Games in Beijing but in 2012 he lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the bronze-medal match, and a cruel draw at Rio four years later saw him assigned Del Potro in the first round.

Top seed Djokovic bowed out in two tie-breaks to the powerful Argentinian, describing the outcome as "one of the toughest losses in my career".

There is no danger of a hat-trick of defeats to Del Potro, which may help Djokovic. Del Potro has been battling for two years to get back to fitness, undergoing four rounds of right knee surgery in a bid to get back on tour.

 

RAISING THE BAR AT THE OLYMPICS

How the Olympic village functions in Tokyo will be distinctly different to at previous Games, given the pandemic restrictions in place that could be a real buzzkill.

But in the past there have been countless cases of athletes becoming inspired by their surroundings and going on to perform above their usual level.

It can be a party village, and it can also be an eyebrow-raising experience as global superstars rub shoulders with competitors who might struggle for recognition in their home towns. More than anything, the shared team experience, fighting for a collective cause, can make a middling athlete believe they can be great.

Monica Puig was a massive tennis outsider in 2016 but the then world number 34 won the women's singles, stunning Angelique Kerber in the final after beating Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza en route. That gave Puerto Rico their first ever Olympic gold medal.

In 1992, a tournament that featured the likes of Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker finished with a staggering final match-up of Marc Rosset versus Jordi Arrese, who in his home city of Barcelona was edged out 8-6 in the fifth set by the Swiss world number 43. Nobody would have predicted that head to head for gold.

Similarly, at Athens 2004, Nicolas Massu beat Mardy Fish in the gold medal match of a tournament that featured Federer, Andy Roddick, Carlos Moya and Tim Henman.

In the 1996 Atlanta Games, Lindsay Davenport, who had just turned 20, took inspiration from being the daughter of an Olympian, with dad Wink having played volleyball for the United States at Mexico City in 1968.

Davenport was beginning to make an impact on the WTA Tour but was only the ninth seed at the Olympics, yet she swept through the rounds before sinking Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 7-6 (10-8) 6-2 in the final.

"It's like one of those things I look back on and I'm like, 'Was that me?'," Davenport told The Tennis Podcast last year.

"It doesn't seem like it was real. I'd made the transition to the pro tour pretty well, but I liked hanging out between eight and 16 in the rankings. I was very insecure, unsure of what could I do. I liked doing well but I wasn't sure I wanted to do too well because it seemed really overwhelming to be one of those top players.

"Here I go at 20 years old to Atlanta for two or three weeks, in a setting that seemed so comfortable. Look at all these athletes, you have all different shapes and sizes, you have players that are really working hard but have so much in common and you get to hang out with them, breakfast, lunch, dinner in the village."

Davenport was a future world number one and three-time grand slam singles champion, but at this point in her career being an American at an Olympics in the United States was just a thrill.

"You're sharing this with your team-mates who are some of my best friends in Mary Joe Fernandez, Monica Seles. It was the best time ever," she said.

"By the time the tournament actually started we were like, 'Yeah, I'll go play my match and then we'll go back to the village and we'll hang out', and everything went so fast in those few weeks.

"And there I was left standing, winning at the end because I was so incredibly happy and excited with everything that was going on. I kind of forgot what was my job.

"When it became a reality of even just making the team in '96, it was so huge also for my family with having a second generation Olympian."

Roger Federer is in the draw for the US Open, but it remains unclear whether he will be fit to take part in the final grand slam of the year.

The United States Tennis Association confirmed on Wednesday that Federer was one of six former men's champions to receive direct entry into the draw.

Federer this month withdrew from the Olympic Games, citing a setback with his knee, on which he had two surgeries in 2020.

The Swiss, though, expressed his desire to return the tour, with Flushing Meadows providing his last chance to add to his tally of 20 major titles in 2021.

A five-time winner in New York, Federer has not reached the final at the US Open since 2015.

In the women's singles draw, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams have each received direct entries into the draw.

Reigning champion Osaka missed Wimbledon having withdrawn from the French Open after the first round to protect her well-being amid a fallout following her decision to not attend post-match media conferences.

Williams is still awaiting a record-tying 24th grand slam title, the 39-year-old forced to retire from her first-round match at Wimbledon because of an injury to her right leg.

Roberto Bautista Agut crashed out to Arthur Rinderknech in the second round of the Swiss Open Gstaad on Wednesday, while fifth seed Federico Delbonis also failed to progress.

Rinderknech, who is ranked exactly 100th in the world, picked up the biggest win of his career in style as he dispatched of second seed Agut with a comfortable 6-2 6-4 victory

In another upset, world number 155 Hugo Gaston laid down an early marker with a first-set demolition of Delbonis, who lost out to eventual winner Pablo Carreno Busta in the Hamburg European Open semi-finals last week, before he triumphed in three sets, 6-0 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-3).

Fourth seed Cristian Garin cruised past Marc Polmans 6-3 6-0 to wrap the match up in less than an hour and seal his fifth ATP quarter-final of 2021.

Another semi-finalist in Hamburg, Laslo Djere survived a second-set scare to eliminate Zizou Bergs with a 6-2 4-6 6-2 win, which sets up a last-eight tie with Rinderknech.

At the Croatia Open in Umag, fourth seed Richard Gasquet battled past qualifier Alessandro Giannessi to secure a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 victory.

Top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas also progressed, winning 7-5 6-4 to eliminate Duje Ajdukovic on his home turf.

Double Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray feels Tokyo 2020 can provide a "beacon of hope" after the disruption that continues to be caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Murray is set to take part in his fourth Games as he looks to defend the singles title he won at London 2012 and then successfully retained four years later in Rio. 

Delayed by a year due to the global pandemic and due to be played out in front of no spectators in Japan, Murray is excited to compete as he bids to build momentum following his injury problems.  

"Going to a second Olympics as defending champion is exciting and I am looking forward to the challenge. The Games are the biggest competition in the world and as athletes we train hard for moments like this," the Team GB tennis star wrote on the official Olympics website. 

"Tokyo 2020 in 2021 is unique, falling during the pandemic and we have seen incredible resilience from athletes, fans and all those involved in making this happen. 

"In so many ways, right now it's more important than ever that people around the world get to reconnect to the raw emotion of sport, watch incredible performances and celebrate the achievement of athletes coming from around the world.

"It's going to be amazing to be playing in Tokyo and my own experiences are why I think the Games have never been more relevant. For those that are still experiencing the worst of the pandemic and others that have lost so much over the last year, this Games can be a beacon of hope."

Murray is part of six-strong tennis squad, which includes men's doubles partner Joe Salisbury – an Olympic debutant and recent French Open mixed doubles winner – and Neal Skupski, that will compete for Team GB.

Current British number one Dan Evans is the other men's player in the squad, while Heather Watson and Johanna Konta appear at their third and second respective Games to make up the team.

While Murray will chase doubles glory with Salisbury, the 34-year-old is not taking his eyes off individual success either.

"On a personal level, the Tokyo Games are significant. My goal is to try and win a medal. Ideally a gold one for my country," the two-time Wimbledon champion added.

"I know first-hand the impact that playing sport for a career has on your body. I know how difficult and frustrating that journey can be. I know the heartbreak of missing a major tournament and the journey of recovery."

Fresh off the back of semi-final appearances at the Hamburg European Open, Federico Delbonis and Laslo Djere coasted through their respective first-round matches on the second day of the Swiss Open Gstaad, which included no upsets at the round-of-32 stage.

Delbonis, who is seeded fifth and lost to eventual winner Pablo Carenno Busta last week in Hamburg, cruised to a 6-3 6-3 victory against Leandro Riedi as the Swiss player struggled to make home advantage count.

Seventh seed and loser of the other semi-final in Germany last week, Djere continued his good form and wasted no time in thrashing Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-4 6-3.

The other game on day two saw Dennis Novak dispatch of Kacper Zuk 6-4 6-4 and that straight-sets victory means the Austrian will next face the number three seeded player Casper Ruud, who won the Nordea Open last week to secure his third ATP title and second of 2021.

Alongside Ruud, the three other top four seeds - Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut and Cristian Garin - will now enter the draw, after benefiting from byes in the first round of the competition.

There was a surprise at the Croatia Open in Umag, though. Fifth seed Aljaz Bedene went down 6-1- 6-4 to Marco Cecchinato, who will now challenge fellow qualifier Damir Dzumhur to set up a potential quarter-final clash with Richard Gasquet if the Frenchman makes it through his round-of-16 tie.

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