Aussies ready to serve it up to rivals
Published 5 August 2016 (AEDT)
TENNIS: Australian men’s coach Mark Draper is predicting a bold showing from his four-strong team in the opening round of the men’s singles.
The Australians fared well in the opening round draw with world No.75 John Millman to face world No.71 Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania), Jordan Thompson drawing unseeded Britain Kyle Edmund and Thanasi Kokkinakis coming up against world No.61 Gastao Elias from Portugal.
Sam Groth, a late inclusion in the singles draw, faces the most daunting opening round match of the Australians in the men’s draw, against eighth seed David Goffin from Belgium.
Draper said the draw provided a great opportunity to progress in the tournament.
“It’s a great group of guys here and let’s hope we can have some really strong performances,” Draper said.
“Johnny (Millman) has obviously been playing good tennis.
“He’s had a little bit of a left wrist issue the last couple of weeks, so he has been working through that, but I like to think he is a pretty good chance of getting through that one.
“Obviously Thanasi playing Elias, Thanasi hasn’t had any match play for nine, 10 months, so that’s a little bit of an unknown, but he is excited to be here and we all know what level he is capable of, so I think a lot of it comes down to how Thanasi is feeling with his serve and his game in general.”
A win for Millman would set up a likely second round match with world No.5 Kei Nishikori (Japan), while a win for Thompson would set up a potential second round clash against world No.1 Novak Djokovic (Serbia), who faces an intriguing opening round match against 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.
“I know Kyle Edmund pretty well,” Draper said of Thompson’s first round opponent.
“Kyle’s been playing good tennis. He plays a big brand of tennis, big forehand.
“They’re relatively evenly matched. Thommo has had a good year so that match will come down to who executes better on the day, so Thommo has a great chance there.
“For Sam, on paper that’s a tough one, and Grothey has been a little short of match wins, but sometimes that’s a good thing.
“You can go out there and free-wheel and he’s got a big game, obviously a huge serve, so he will go out there and give it his best shot.”
In the doubles, the Australian pairing of Chris Guccione and John Peers face a challenging first round encounter against the unseeded Argentine pairing of Del Potro and Maximo Gonzalez.
“It’s a relatively tough one, but in saying that Peersey and Gucc can beat any team in the world when they are playing well,” Draper said.
“They have both proven themselves at the highest level in doubles and I am sure they are excited to get out there and give everything they’ve got for Australia.”
The Olympic Tennis competition starts on Day 1, Saturday, August 6.