There will be five gold medals up for grabs when the tennis event starts at the Olympic Games on July 24..
A total of 64 players, across both men and women’s competitions, will be competing in Tokyo, and while there have been several big-name withdrawals, there will be strong fields in both the men’s and women’s competition, as well as men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
Team GB’s Andy Murray is the defending champion in the men’s singles while there will be a new women’s champion as Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig is not playing. But which country has the best chance of taking home the most medals?
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Russian National Olympic Committee
There will be no Russian flag or anthem in Tokyo after the country was stripped of those privileges for doping offences. However, there will be a strong contingent of Russian tennis players.
The men’s team in particular is packed with quality, with world No 2 Daniil Medvedev leading the charge. World No 7 Andrey Rublev will also be competing along with Wimbledon quarter-finalist Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev, who has enjoyed a breakout season.
The women’s singles team features three players ranked in the top 35 in the world. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the highest-ranked of the trio at No 18 while Veronika Kudermetova and Yekaterina Alexandrova are 33 and 34 respectively.
They are without world No 31 Daria Kasatkina due to injury concerns, but she has been replaced by 2016 doubles gold medallist Yelena Vesnina. She will team up in the women's doubles with Kudermetova, just a few weeks after their run to the Wimbledon final.
There’s always a strong chance for the host nation to win medals, particularly when the team will be headed by world No 2 Naomi Osaka.
Osaka hasn’t played since withdrawing from the French Open due to mental health issues, but has spoken about how excited she is to compete on home soil in Japan. The 24-year-old has played her best tennis on hard courts and will be one of the favourites for gold.
Naomi Osaka will lead the Japan team
Image credit: Getty Images
While Osaka will be making her debut at the Games, Kei Nishikori will be competing for the fourth straight time. The 31-year-old has slipped down the ranks in recent years due to injuries and loss of form, but he won bronze in 2016 and could be a factor at home. Nishikori is set to play mixed doubles with Osaka.
And Japan also have strength in the women’s doubles with Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, who have won a tour-leading four titles in 2021 and are second on the yearly rankings.
Croatia’s singles players might not be among the favourites for medals, but their men’s doubles team of Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic will be bidding for gold. The duo continued a dominant season by winning Wimbledon to secure their eighth title of 2021.
“We are very confident,” Pavic said about the Olympics. “The schedule is not the best, but I think we have a good chance.
"We are one of the favourites there. The way we played, I think there would be a good chance for us."
There are chances of success in the singles with Marin Cilic showing some improved form recently while world No 45 Donna Vekic will lead Croatia in the women’s singles as Petra Martic has pulled out.
There’s not much chance of a medal in the men’s singles, with no representative in the top 100, but elsewhere Czech Republic look strong.
Having won three bronze medals in 2016, there should be a chance of silver or gold in the women’s doubles with Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, the winners of two Grand Slam doubles titles this year.
Krejcikova also won the French Open singles titles and beat fellow Czech Tereza Martincova in the final of the Prague Open last week. She is joined by Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova, who pulled out of Rio in 2016 over concerns about the Zika virus.
"I have my age and it may be my first and last Olympic tournament," said the 29-year-old, who is due to play both singles and double.
Pliskova and Krejcikova are seeded fifth and eighth respectively while two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova is also in the team.
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