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Olympic Wrap-Up: Golden Days for US, Britain

Murray, Williams Take Gold


August 05, 2012 | 08:31 PM

On the final day of Olympic tennis, most of the competitors are winners because, unlike all other tennis tournament formats, those ending up with silver and bronze leave with a medal and positive memory for life. Azarenka seemed just as ecstatic yesterday when she won a bronze in singles as today when she and max Miryni won a gold over Andy Murray and Laura Robson.

SERENA didn't have to manage any metalic transition as she and Venus went on to take their 3rd gold medal in doubles, 6-4, 6-4, over a couple of Czech women (Hlavackova & Hredecka) who seemed to delight just in playing for gold (when was the last time you saw a pair smile at each other when they'd just seen another volley go through them?).

As for Andy, he said. "I would love to win Wimbledon for sure but this felt good and I wouldn't change this for anything now for sure." Maybe he was a little disappointed that the Royal Box didn't support him in the end, but after Wigg's win and their success on the Lake, in the natatorium and in the ring, they may have taken a traditional Sunday off at Wimbledon. It's been a busy Jubilee year, after all.

For Fed, who now has a silver to go along with his gold doubles medal form '08, earnings and rankings points aside, would he exchange his 7th Wimbledon trophy for a gold?

Judging by the way he played today, the answer appeared to be NO. He had earned a crack at the gold by serving well enough Friday to survive some very poor patches of tennis in the first two sets agains Del Potro. Today he suffered fewer poor patches, though there were still a couple of botched forehand volleys that led some to think he was tanking (what motive he'd have had to tank, I can't imagine). But he didn't serve well enough to defend his serve on break points, as he had throughout the previous 12 matches on the Wimbledon grass: he allowed Murray to break him on 5 of 10 opportunities. Going 0 for 9 in break chances on Murray's serve may have been frustrating, especially in the key 2-0 game in the 2nd set on Murray's serve when Fed held 6 break points, but he'd endured that frustration against Del Potro through 20 service games before he finally broke at 9 all in the 3rd.

Murray acknowledged it was the greatest match of his life, never once tightening up or retreating into a defensive posture even when Fed barraged him with power groundies. It may have not have been the best tennis match throughout, but no one was coasting in spite of a score which looked lop-sided (6-2, 6-1, 6-4). The match was just short of two hours, 7 minutes shorter than Andy's two set win over Joker which was one game longer. Even serving for the gold at 5-4, Andy didn't let his nerves slow him down - he poured his adrenaline into a few extra horsepower on his first serve, just enough to take the racquet out of Fed's hands.

As career changing as this win may be for Murray (I'd call him the favorite at the Open, along with bronze winner Del Potro who left Joker medal-less after a 7-5, 6-4 beating), it is even more momentous for tennis in The United Kingdom, ending a 77 year draught. There will be at least one mountain named after Murray - expect Scotland to be the first to do it (maybe they'll re-name one their unpronounceable peaks like Carn Mor Dearg).

The Swiss may now go home without a gold, but they weren't going to re-name the Matterhorn for Roger. It's unclear how much this neutral nation of solo climbers and sheltered investors values team-work and sport. They love Fed, but they aren't ready to make him mayor of Basel like the fanatics in Belgrade. Life may be just too secure for them to get caught up in sporting achievements. Anyway, they have the

With 3 golds and 2 bronze (Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond beat Lisicki & Kas), we YANKS are leaving Wimbledon looking like the center of the tennis universe. If the public only followed tennis through the Olympics, the tennis landscape wouldn't appear to have changed since the 30's when Budge, Perry and Helen Wills Moody dominated the sport. If the USTA replaced the US Open Series with a 50 state tour for the brothers and the sisters, they'd do more to promote the sport than all the media they buy for Kids Day in Flushing Meadow. Since they are having little to no success keeping up on the player development front, they should declare victory while there's a thread of evidence left in the public eye to support the claim.

Besides the Yanks and the Brits, these tennis games awarded a silver and a bronze to the Russians (Maria in singles, Petrova & Kirilenko defeated Lisa Raymond & Liezel Huber 4-6. 6-4, 6-1), and a silver and a bronze to the French (Tsonga & Llodra; Benneteau & Gasquet).

Medal Round losers included Spain (Lopez & Ferrer), Serbia (Joker), Russia (Kirilenko) and Germany (Lisicki & Kas).

We Yanks have managed very well at the tennis Olympics since their re-instatement in '88m in spite of Sampras staying clear of the whole affair (tomorrow we'll review the arena in which we have been more successful than others). With the Bryans and the Williams aging out and a surface destined to be clay, expect Brazil to drastically change the picture for TEAM USA.

Rick

Olympic tennis 7.5.12


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