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Olympic veterans Simon, Stosur and more on the hunt again in Tokyo
Perhaps a medal is within reach for Australia's Samantha Stosur, after all these years.
Published Jul 22, 2021
Much has been made of Novak Djokovic’s pursuit of a gold medal in Tokyo this year after coming up short on multiple occasions. He’s far from the only player, though, who has represented their country numerous times at the Olympic Games but have been unable to find a place on the podium at the end of the tournament.
Here’s a look at several veterans on the ATP and WTA tours still hoping to have a successful breakthrough at the quadrennial event as they reach the later stages of their careers, more than a decade after their respective debuts.
Seeded at the tournament from 2008 to 2016, the veteran Frenchman isn’t afforded such a lofty position in the draw this year. His struggle to adjust to tour life during the pandemic has been well documented as he just fell out of the Top 100 for the first time in more than a decade. Simon has reached the third round every year he’s played the tournament and despite his current status in the game, he’s still capable of an upset or two, which could mean trouble Fabio Fognini and Daniil Medvedev, the seeds in his section.
One of the mainstays of women’s tennis in Italy for more than a decade, Errani hasn’t always had the most memorable experience at the Olympics, carrying a 2-3 record in singles from 2008 to 2016. With her rollercoaster results the past few years, the former world No. 5 was awarded a spot in the draw this year by the International Tennis Federation. However, she made it in didn’t matter as she expressed her joy to play in Tokyo in a recent Instagram post.
The Olympics have been full of special moments over the years for one of Brazil’s best-ever doubles players: from making his debut in 2008 with Andre Sa to quarterfinal appearances at the last two editions with Bruno Soares. Back in ’12, that pair topped Czechs Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek 24-22 in the third set in the second round. This year, Melo is teaming up with Marcelo Demoliner, another Brazilian doubles standout, but they have arguably the toughest opening match of the tournament as they’ll face Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, the team to beat in ’21. It could be an opportunity to make more memories for the 37-year-old Melo.
As India’s most successful women’s player ever, the Olympics haven’t always been a smooth experience for Mirza, who’s been caught in the middle of battles between the governing body of tennis in the nation and the top male players on occasion. She’s set to make her fourth appearance at the tournament this year, though—and first as a mom. The former doubles world No. 1 is usually a dual threat at the Summer Games, making her an enviable partner among her compatriots. Whomever she ends up paired with in mixed this year, that duo could be considered a threat to land on the medal stand, which would be another first for Mirza.
In her prime, Stosur was considered a triple threat, with Grand Slam titles in singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles to her credit. Surprisingly, though, the Australian hasn’t had much success at the Olympics, with her best result among all three disciplines a mixed quarterfinal back in 2012. She’s been awarded a spot in the singles draw by the ITF and is playing doubles with Ellen Perez, with whom she should be considered a dangerous floater. Perhaps a medal is within reach once again, after all these years.