July 26 (Bloomberg) -- Wimbledon champion Roger Federer will start his quest for a first singles gold medal against Alejandro Falla at the Olympic tennis event.
The All England Club, which organizes the annual Wimbledon championships, will host the sport at the London Games for the second time in its 135-year history. The competition, won by Rafael Nadal of Spain and the now-retired Elena Dementieva of Russia four years ago in Beijing, starts in two days. Nadal withdrew last week because of injury.
Although 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer of Switzerland leads Falla 5-0, the Colombian took him to five sets at Wimbledon in 2010 and even served for the match.
Women’s top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus was drawn against Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in the opening round.
Second-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who won the singles bronze medal four years ago, plays Italy’s Fabio Fognini. Third-seeded Andy Murray of Britain, beaten by Federer in the Wimbledon final earlier this month, plays Stanislas Wawrinka, who will carry the flag for Switzerland at tomorrow’s opening ceremony. Djokovic and Murray have been drawn in the same half.
Four-time Wimbledon singles champion Serena Williams of the U.S. faces former top-ranked Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, while her sister and former gold medalist Venus plays French Open finalist Sara Errani of Italy. The Williams sisters won doubles gold in Beijing and at Sydney in 2000. French Open champion Maria Sharapova, the flag-bearer for Russia, faces Israel’s Shahar Peer.
Forty-four countries will be competing at Wimbledon. There is a draw of 64 for the men’s and women’s singles, with 16 players seeded in each event, and a draw of 32 for the men’s and women’s doubles, with eight teams seeded in each. Mixed doubles is making a return to the Olympics as a medal sport for the first time since 1924.
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