Having weathered a 60-year absence from the Games, and a lackluster turnout by top players when it returned as a medal sport at Seoul, tennis is back with a vengeance.
The late withdrawal of Atlanta champion Andre Agassi and Brazil's world No. 1 Gustavi Kuerten leaves the field wide open. Leading the charge are second-ranked Swede Magnus Norman and Russia's in-form Marat Safin. But don't discount the home-ground advantage of two-time U.S. Open champ Patrick Rafter, hard-serving Mark Philippoussis, and Lleyton Hewitt, who ran hot at the recent U.S. Open.
With Martina Hingis and French Open winner Mary Pierce out of contention, Atlanta gold medalist Lindsay Davenport's fiercest competition will come from compatriots Venus Williams and Monica Seles, who is still searching for her best form. Meanwhile, Spain's veteran Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario will be looking to add to her collection of four Olympic medals.
It's hard to look past Australia's Atlanta-gilded "Woodies," Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, especially since it will be their last Games together. Hoping to beat them are Jared Palmer and Alex O'Brien of the U.S., the Czech Republic's Jiri Novak and David Rikl, and the accomplished Indian pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes.
Venus and Serena Williams of the U.S., the dominant players in women's doubles, will be hard to beat (if Serena recovers from an inflamed toe), especially under the watchful eye of team coach Billie Jean King. Their sturdiest opponents will be No. 2-ranked Australian Rennae Stubbs, who will partner the unpredictable Jelena Dokic, and the more consistent French team of Sandrine Testud and Julie Halard-Decugis.
WHEN TO WATCH
Singles Sept. 28
- Doubles Sept. 27
Singles Sept. 27
- Doubles Sept. 28