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NEWS FEATURE Tennis stars in Stuttgart can't wait for the Rio Olympics By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe
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The Olympic tennis tournament in Rio is still more than three months away but the leading women‘s players already have their minds on that as a highlight of the season.

Stuttgart, Germany (dpa) - Garbine Muguruza would love to play mixed doubles with Rafael Nadal, Angelique Kerber wants a medal, and Agnieszka Radwanska doesn‘t see being a flag bearer as a bad omen as the leading women‘s tennis players can‘t wait for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The tournament in Rio does not start until August 6, but the deciding rankings to determine who is eligible to play will come on June 6 after the French Open - at the end of the clay court season which for the women has its first highlight this week in Stuttgart.

So Rio is very much on the players‘ minds in the Porsche Arena.

Apart from representing Spain in the singles, world number four and 2015 Wimbledon finalist Muguruza will certainly not object to a mixed doubles with the national icon Nadal.

"I mean, wow, who doesn‘t want to play with Rafa. I want (to), obviously. But this is not my decision. I think the captains make that decision and I have never played mixed before," she said.

"I mean to play at the Olympics, if I have the chance to play, I‘ll be happy to do it. Maybe it‘s too much playing singles, doubles and mixed. Maybe it‘s crazy. But we‘ll see."

Muguruza also likes the prospect of going to the famed city of Rio because "it makes me more happy because I‘m Latin also."

Andrea Petkovic also cited the Brazilian lifestyle when she expressed her excitement and hope of being on the German team after missing London 2012 through injury.

"I‘ve never been to Brazil. I think it really fits well with me. I don‘t know I have a strange feeling that this could be a good country for me. I always wanted to visit it as a tourist but now I will see it for work," quipped the charismatic Petkovic who also plans to watch other sports and explore the city.

Radwanska was in London 2012, and even Poland‘s flag bearer at the opening ceremony, but then as second seed surprisingly crashed out in the first round against German Julia Goerges.

However, she is not superstitious: "That was a great honour to carry the flag in the opening ceremony and I would do it again if they ask me. So, there is no problem there. I don‘t believe in this kind of bad luck that you carry the flag and lose the next day.

"I‘m actually thinking about Olympics to be really fit physically and mentally fresh and ready, not playing too much, especially to have some couple of good results and a lot of good tight and tough matches."

Goerges, for her part, is not sure owing to her slide since 2012 if she will make it at all to Rio, but she is not obsessed.

"I know the deadline and then it will be decided who goes. But I am not telling myself every week that every round counts, and wow, the Olympics. I have experienced it once before."

Germany‘s top player in Rio is to be Kerber who, after a narrow quarter-final defeat against Victoria Azarenka in 2012 and her first grand slam title in January in Australia, wants more in Rio.

"It will definitely be a highlight for me this year because the Olympics have a been a childhood dream. I experienced London and it was something very special. Now I am looking forward to Rio," she said.

Kerber is fully aware that another good showing in Stuttgart, where she is the title holder, could help her cause in the long run.

"It will be a special tournament that‘s why I hope that I can play my best tennis this week in order to win a medal there," Kerber said.

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