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Rio 2016 Tennis: What We Learned

Posted by Webster Washington on 8/18/2016 6:00:25 AM

There are a few observations of note from Rio 2016 that should serve as reference for your early U.S. Open tennis betting. The couple of prep tournaments before the Open will supplement that, but let us first wrap up the Olympics tennis and see what we learned in terms of going forward.

The issues of dropouts and scheduling were big going into the Olympic tournament, and we may find out who benefitted the most by participating or passing on Rio. But there are some clues regarding players who did participate that may be telling as we look at betting for the U.S. Open, which begins on Aug. 29.

Men

First of all, Andy Murray won the men's gold in a hard-fought victory over Juan Martin del Potro that revealed a little about both players. In winning, Murray became the only player to have won two gold medals in the Olympics. That in itself could be a springboard – or lead to a letdown – for him.

Murray admitted he got a bit tired going four tough sets with del Potro, but that is natural considering the two played for four hours in pretty humid conditions, conditions they are less likely to face in New York. More revealing was the 45 unforced errors Murray committed, while his service was broken six times. Del Potro committed 57 unforced errors of his own, and was broken nine times, or he might have won the gold.

Nevertheless, del Potro has proven he can win again. After a year of nursing a wrist injury, he appeared to be on a track he hasn't been on in a while. Relying a lot on a strong forehand and serve, del Potro took down Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on his way to the finals. The fact that the Argentine was around home and had South American fans at his back didn't hurt either. Djokovic didn't play long enough in Rio to show anything, because del Potro eliminated him in the first round.

American Steve Johnson also gave Murray fits in a rugged three-set quarters duel that went to a tiebreaker in the third set. All tournament, Johnson looked better than his No. 22 ranking and should be followed in the lead-ups to the Open.

Women

Serena Williams lost in the third round to Elina Svitolina in straight sets. Later Serena pulled out of the tournament in Cincinnati, citing a right shoulder injury, the same setback that forced her to withdraw from the Rogers Cup in Montreal last month. Her fitness and durability have to be considered.

Angelique Kerber is another with fitness issues. She seemed to have trouble chasing down shots at times. Against Madison Keys in the Rio semis, she was continually stopping and bending over in apparent pain after points that required a lot of running. She got past Keys in two sets on her shot-making skills alone. In her loss to Monica Puig in the gold-medal match, Kerber was visited by a trainer and stood on the sideline while her lower back was massaged and manipulated. Then she went to the locker room for a medical timeout. Kerber said later that the back bothered her from the outset of the tournament, but it wasn't why she lost. She's entered in the Cincinnati event, and how deep she goes will tell a lot.

Meanwhile, Keys continues to show tons of talent, but only ounces of consistency. In the loss to Kerber in the semis, and in a 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 loss to the Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova in the bronze medal match, Keys passed on way too many opportunities to gain the upper hand. Against Kerber, Keys was 0-for-10 on break-point opportunities. Against another more experienced player in Kvitova, Keys was 2-for-10. And though Keys played at a high level at times against two of the hardest hitters in the game, she was sloppy, committing 90 unforced errors in those matches (41 versus Kerber; 49 against Kvitova). You just get the idea that if Keys can get down to cutting her errors and winning big points, she will be a contender in the late rounds of tournaments.

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