Once again, Ian from The Steelers n'at and I are teaming up to preview the Olympics. The Games kick off on July 27 in London, so over the next week we'll be giving yinz the rundown on what you need to know in preparation for the greatest international competition in existence. We also have Adam dropping some knowledge on us about athletes and teams you can expect to see on the medal stand. Since there are 31 different events in the Summer Games, we've condensed them down and combined them so we don't have to write 31 different posts. Today, I'll be looking at Tennis, Table Tennis, and Badminton.
Events: Men's Singles, Men's Doubles, Women's Singles, Women's Doubles, Mixed Doubles
Just 3 short weeks after someone is crowned Wimbledon champion, players will return to the same courts and battle for Olympic gold. Most of the top players in the world are expected to compete, so get ready to hear Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray's names tossed around a lot. John Isner (#10 in the world) is the top-ranked American in the tournament even though Andy Roddick (#32 in the world) is probably still the most well-known. Roddick and Isner will team up in the Doubles competition, along with American duo Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (#3 seed in the tournament)
On the Women's side, Russian Maria Sharapova is the top ranked player in the world but most of the attention will be on the Williams sisters who are expected to both compete in the Singles competition as well as the Doubles, where they are the defending gold medalists. With the inclusion of some of the top Singles players in the Doubles tournament, the Doubles will be a wide open competition that anyone could win.
Events: Men's Singles, Women's Singles, Men's Team, Women's Team
Fact: Asians are really good at tennis-like games. This is not being stereotypical or racist, this is a fact. The top 5 Men's players are all Chinese. Of the Top 10 in the world, there is only 1 from a non-Asian country, German Timo Boll (#6). 6 of the top 10 are from China, 1 from Germany, Japan, Korea, and Chinese Taipei. In the top 20, Belarus, Singapore, and Hong Kong are also represented. On the women's side, the top 4 are from China, with Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong represented in the Top 10. However, the Olympics has a rule that only 2 players from each country may take part in the competition at the Games. This means that even though China has the top 5 men's players and top 4 women's players, the medal stand will have at least one open spot because only 2 players from each will be able to compete.
Americans in the Tournament: Timothy Wang is the only American entrant in the Men's tournament. Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Erica Wu will be competing in the Women's tournament. None of the Americans are ranked in the top 100 in the world in either Men's or Women's Table Tennis. Apparently, that dude from your fraternity that you thought was really good at ping pong decided to do other things with his life than become an Olympic athlete.
Events: Men's Singles, Women's Singles, Men's Doubles, Women's Doubles, Mixed Doubles
Remember what I said about Asians being really good at tennis-like games? The same is true for Badminton. Of the top 10 seeds in Men's Singles, 3 are from China, 2 from Japan, and 1 from Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Denmark. In Women's Singles the top 3 seeds are all from China with other top players from India, Denmark, Germany, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, and Thailand. In doubles, 4 of the top 5 seeded Men's teams are from China and South Korea. In Women's Doubles, 6 of the top 7 teams are from China, South Korea, and Japan.
Americans in the Tournament: Rena Wang (#57 in world) is the #27 seed in Women's Singles. No US men qualified for the Men's Singles. The duo of Howard Bach & Tony Gunawan is the #13 seed in Men's Doubles. The US failed to qualify a team in either the Women's Doubles or Mixed Doubles tournament. Americans might not be great at Badminton, but we're really good at Final Cut Pro.
Adam's Take: Tennis is a pretty brutal sport. You basically spend the entire time running around in an area the size of a mobile home, baking alive on a super-heated surface covered with Cheetos-like dust. I’m guessing Raf Nadal will reassert himself in this event, though Djokavich is another smart bet. Unlike tennis on the WPT or whatever, the Olympic version of sports like tennis, badminton & table tennis (each with doubles) have their alternate medal competitions televised. This is awesome because I enjoy hoping the server hits their partner up playing net, or they hit into each other or someone ends up with a shuttlecock in their ear.
In Table Tennis you should probably just bet on Jike Zhang & Hao Wang of China. In fact, look for China to dominate this sport on all fronts. Germany and Korea may snag a medal or two, but the Chinese women are just as strong.
Badminton is not sport I remember getting a lot of pub back in Beijing, but it is unreal to watch. Sure, you’re pumped about table tennis with all the hoping around and whatnot…but imagine that with the threat of nasty welts, sprained angles and 120 mph serves. For the betting, just stick with Asia. China swept gold in the mens last time and Korea is again a threat, with Indonesia likely get to get a gold or two in womens.