>> Friday, December 11, 2009
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the addition of the mixed doubles tennis event in the next version of the Summer Olympic Games - the 2012 London Olympics. This was announced on December 10 by the Executive Board of the IOC. Francesco Ricci Bitti, International Tennis Federation (ITF) President said - "We believe that this addition will make Olympic Tennis a truly unique event, with top players having the opportunity to compete for their countries and the honour of an Olympic Medal in three distinct disciplines: singles, doubles and mixed doubles. The ITF thanks the IOC Executive Board for their continuing support of tennis in the Olympic Games".
What does this mean? It provides another opportunity for a tennis talent laden country to add another GOLD to its Olympic haul. The inclusion of the mixed doubles event however, will not increase the current number of athletes. Thus, only those who meet the Olympic qualifying standards for men and women singles and doubles competition can join the mixed doubles tournament. Below is a list of mixed doubles teams belonging to one country that have won Grand Slam titles in the past 10 years:
2009 US Open: C Gullickson - T Parrott (United States)
2009 French Open: L Huber - B Bryan (United States)
2009 Australian Open: S Mirza - M Bhupathi (India)
2007 US Open: V Azarenka - M Mirnyi (Belarus)
2006 US Open: M Navratilova - B Bryan (United States)
2005 Australian Open: S Stosur - S Draper (Australia)
2004 Wimbledon: C Black - W Black (Zimbabwe)
2004 French Open: T Golovin - R Gasquet (France)
2003 French Open: L Raymond - M Bryan (United States)
2002 US Open: L Raymond - M Bryan (United States)
2002 French Open: C Black - W Black (Zimbabwe)
2001 US Open: R Stubbs - T Woodbridge (Australia)
2001 French Open: V Ruano Pascual - T Carbonell (Spain)
2000 Wimbledon: K Po-Messerli - D Johnson (United States)
2000 French Open: M de Swardt - D Adams (South Africa)
The United States leads the countries with 6 of the 15 titles won by team members from the same country. Zimbabwe and Australia are tied with 2 titles each. Belarus, France, India, South Africa and Spain have 1 title each.
It would be interesting to try and predict who the contenders for the title will be. Some things to watch for:
- Will two Williams-Bryan teams meet in the gold medal match?
- Will the gold medal go to a traditional tennis powerhouse? (i.e. USA, Australia, Russia, France, Spain) Or, will it come from an emerging tennis country: (i.e. Serbia, Belarus, China)
- Will Roger and Mirka Federer compete? Or will Martina Hingis come out of retirement and try to add an Olympic gold to her resume?
- Which Asian country will win a medal - India, Japan, China, or Thailand?
- Will Djokovic partner with Ivanovic or with Jankovic?
- Will there be a new brother-sister team that will contend now that Safin and the Blacks have retired?