For me the Olympics are about investing in team archer, discovering the next judo star and rooting on the plucky underdogs. They’re about find enjoyment in the obscure and nuances of the previously unexplored events. I want to get into team volleyball and fit the butterfly 200 meter final into my schedule. Then why if I want this fresh Olympic experience every four years am I disappointed that there are so many familiar names crashing out of the tennis draws?
Serena and Venus had never lost a doubles match at the Olympics before losing earlier this week. The world number 1 on the men’s side, Novak Djokovic, lost to the chronically injured Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro in the first round. Andy and Jamie Murray lost in the first round of the men’s doubles tournament. Aga Radwanksa (4) and Venus Williams (5) both crashed out of the first round as well. That is a lot of fire power to no longer be present in the tournament.
The reason this is often bad for tennis, when it is usually generates excitement for every other Olympic event, is that it means that one player will most likely steam roll the competition. How many times have you seen the top seeds on the women side of various Grand Slams roll over and give Serena clear path to crush lower seeded opponents. Everyone was excited about some prime time Wimbledon match-ups this year but after Sam Querrey shocked Novak Djokovic and Milos Ranoic outlasted Roger Federer, Andy Murray cruised virtually untouched to victory. While those individual upsets can be exciting in a bubble, it usually waters down the rest of the tournament.
The flip side of that argument is that this what the Olympics are all about. It gives a Madison Keys a chance to announce herself on the world stage. It gives Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci a chance to make a run in front of the home town fans. It gives the 117 ranked Taro Daniel of Japan the chance to get to a shock quarter, or even semi-final. These players who are either unheard of or on the brink of something special get their time to shine, not only for themselves, but for their country.
Whether you’re hoping some marquee match-ups could still materialize or you’re hoping for an all-underdog final, the Olympics are still must-see-TV.