June 24 (Reuters) - Five tennis players to watch out for at the Tokyo Olympics:
NAOMI OSAKA (JAPAN)
Four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka is widely considered a favourite for gold as she makes her Olympic debut at her home Games and on her favourite surface - hard court.
Osaka, who was named 2021 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, has been praised for using her platform to raise awareness of issues such as police violence, racial injustice and mental health.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SERBIA)
Novak Djokovic owns a number of men’s tennis records such as nine Australian Open titles and spending the most weeks ranked number on the ATP rankings. But the Serb will be searching for his maiden Olympic singles gold medal, the most notable prize still missing from his impressive collection.
The Serbian great, who has won 19 Grand Slam titles, won a singles bronze in 2008 but missed a chance to win another at the 2012 London Games after being beaten by Juan Martin del Potro in the third-place playoff match. The Argentine has proved to be the Serb’s Olympic nemesis as four years later he beat Djokovic in the first round of the Rio Games.
IGA SWIATEK (POLAND)
Poland’s Iga Swiatek had a breakthrough year in 2020, captivating audiences with her calm demeanour and aggressive all-court game on her way to winning the French Open at the age of 19 - the youngest player to do so since Monica Seles in 1992.
The daughter of an Olympic rower, Swiatek won a doubles gold at the 2018 Youth Olympics and said she is targeting a medal in Tokyo.
ROGER FEDERER (SWITZERLAND)
Like Djokovic, 20-times Grand Slam champion Roger Federer will be aiming for his first Olympic singles gold, after a difficult 2020 in which the Swiss underwent two knee surgeries.
Federer, who turns 40 on the final day of the Tokyo Olympics, captured a doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Games and took home a singles silver from London in 2012.
ONS JABEUR (TUNISIA)
Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur has made a steady climb up the rankings since becoming the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final at last year’s Australian Open.
Now ranked in the top 30, Jabeur has won fans worldwide with her crafty brand of tennis, often confounding opponents with her deft touch and variety. (Reporting by Rozanna Latiff, editing by Pritha Sarkar)