Wawrinka puts out the flag before Murray duel

 

Roger Federer has carried the Swiss flag at the opening ceremony at the last two Olympics, but the world No 1 revealed last night that on this occasion he has ceded the honour to the man who helped him to win his only gold medal at the Games four years ago.

Federer was invited to lead out the Swiss team in the Olympic Stadium tonight, but instead it will be his doubles partner, Stanislas Wawrinka, who has been given the task.

"Carrying the flag for me was something I never expected," Federer said. "It was a huge honour in my life to be able to represent Switzerland like that. I've done it twice and it would have been amazing to do it a third time, but I just felt it was important to give someone else a chance. In Switzerland we believe that.

"I told the Swiss Olympic Committee that they should choose someone else and they chose my partner, Stan Wawrinka. It's a great, great honour for him. I couldn't have won the gold without him. Everybody knows that. I think they chose the right guy."

The world No 1 has suffered surprising defeats in the singles in his three previous Olympic appearances, to Tommy Haas, Tomas Berdych and James Blake, but after winning his seventh Wimbledon title less than three weeks ago his confidence is sure to be high.

Yesterday's draw for the tennis tournament gave Federer every chance of adding a singles gold to his many achievements. The Wimbledon champion appears to be in much the easier half of the draw.

He first meets Colombia's Alejandro Falla, who won the first two sets when the two men met in the first round at the All England Club two years ago, but thereafter the biggest threats on his route to the final are likely to be David Ferrer and Juan Martin del Potro, neither of whom are at their best on grass, and the big-serving John Isner, who has gone off the boil in recent months.

The other half of the draw looks much tougher. Novak Djokovic, the world No 2 and last year's Wimbledon champion, is seeded to meet Andy Murray in the semi-finals, though the latter' path is littered with potential pitfalls.

Murray, who lost to Federer in the Wimbledon final less than three weeks ago, faces Wawrinka in the first round and may have to beat France's Richard Gasquet, an outstanding player on his day and a fine performer on grass, and the Czech Republic's Berdych, who has become something of a bogey man for the world No 4, even if he is to make the semi-finals.

In the women's singles Anne Keothavong faces a tough first-round task against Caroline Wozniacki, a former world No 1, but the two other Britons both have winnable matches. Elena Baltacha plays Hungary's Agnes Szavay, while Heather Watson faces Spain's Silvia Soler Espinosa.

Murray's possible route to gold

First round Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland, world No 26)

Knocked Murray out of US Open two years ago but has lost both their other Grand Slam meetings, including at Wimbledon under the roof in 2009.

Second round Jarkko Nieminen (Finland, world No 41)

Has lost all four of his encounters with Murray, including at this year's French Open.

Third round Richard Gasquet (France, world No 21)

Has lost all four of his Grand Slam meetings with Murray, including a five-set epic at Wimbledon in 2008.

Quarter-final Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic, world No 7)

Big hitter who often troubles Murray. Has won four of their six meetings, including in Monte Carlo this year.

Semi-final Novak Djokovic (Serbia, world No 2)

Has beaten Murray in both Grand Slam meetings, in last year's Australian Open final and this year's semi-finals. Murray has won five of their last nine clashes.

Final Roger Federer (Switzerland, world No 1)

Has lost half their 16 meetings but has won all three of their Grand Slam finals, including Wimbledon this month.

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