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The heavy rain on Thursday didn’t allow to play a single point outdoors. The officials decided to appoint doubles matches on a humble indoor venue. Before it happened, the gold medalist from London, Andy Murray withdrew from his match against Milos Raonic  due to left knee injury. The Scot had done it previously in Dubai 2009: “I did a little warm-up on the bike to try it out and it was still sore, so I had to make a decision as to what I was going to do… I don’t want to go full out and possibly do any more damage. That was why I decided not to play.” Earlier this year, in Miami, it was Raonic who gave a walkover to Murray.
The rain fell again on Friday, but all scheduled matches were concluded – third round in day session, quarterfinals in night session. Janko Tipsarevic, Richard Gasquet, John Isner and Novak Djokovic, in this order, managed to win two matches within a day, ‘Tipsy’ saved the most energy winning both of them in easy straight setters. “For sure it’s tough, but I think he played one more hour than me in the morning with Monaco so it made a little bit of a difference, I think,” analyzed Gasquet  the two-match task. “I tried to fight a lot and then I defended well and I played a good match. But for sure to play two matches in a day, it’s very difficult.” The hardships of participating in two matches the same day were visible in doings of veterans: 31-year-old Mardy Fish and three years older Tommy Haas. They hadn’t fuel left in the tank playing their sixth set of the day against much more younger opponents – Gasquet and Djokovic respectively. However kudos to Haas for taking a set off Djokovic and showing impressive fighting spirit in the last game as he won a 31-stroke rally and got to ‘deuce’ thrice (the Serb won 6-3 3-6 6-3 five minutes before midnight, celebrating it on the knees). Haas is good to watch these days, very wise in shot selection, uses all his big experience to deliver an interesting, diversified tennis, and doesn’t complain as much as in the past… Raonic wasted a wonderful opportunity to make a breakthrough tournament. He had two days off while his quarterfinal rival, Isner was forced to play a tough 3-setter a couple hours before. In respect of that, the home crowd could expect its best player at least in the final – the inconsistent Gasquet would be beatable in the semis. Raonic couldn’t consolidate a break advantage in the 1st set against Isner though, afterwards blew a set point in a tie-break (8:7*) and lost 6-7(9) 4-6. There was a time at the beginning of the year when Raonic seemed very reliable mentally, since the Memphis final he has been actually losing all tight encounters. “I felt all right out there, and I thought I would feel fine,” Isner said. “The way I looked at it is I was at a bit of an advantage, in my opinion, because he hadn’t played in a few days.”
The tournament was deprived of the best Spaniards (Nadal, Ferrer, Almagro, Verdasco, F.Lopez) and best Swiss players (Federer, Wawrinka), furthermore Roddick and Monfils didn’t appear at the Canadian Open. The Frenchman hasn’t played a tournament since May – last year during the American summer swing he was a Top 10 player, now drops outside the Top 30. The draw has been cut this year from 56 to 48, thus far only Paris-Bercy was a Masters 1000 event with 16 players having ‘bye’ in the first round.
19-year-old Bernard Tomic  still disappoints this season. He has admittedly snapped a 7-match losing streak but couldn’t take an advantage of Novak Djokovic‘s jet lag and lost all break points he had in first three service games of the Serb. Djokovic found his rhythm after that, and won the opening match easily 6-2 6-3. Physically he looked better than other Olympic heroes – Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga seemed pretty tired and lost their first matches on Wednesday after identical scoreline 4-6 6-7. “I came here Monday night,” explained Del Potro. “It’s not easy to play after a big effort in the Olympics, but I tried anyway.” Andy Murray, who played last week eleven matches in eight days (6 singles, 4 mixed, 1 doubles), had some problems with left thigh but his superiority over an ultra-defensive Flavio Cipolla  is so huge that the Scot won the match actually standing on one leg. “After playing for eight weeks on grass pretty much, it’s very different here,” said Murray. “The ball is very quick compared with Wimbledon. It also bounces much higher. The court is much slower as well, so there are a lot of things to change. Only got a couple hits on the court, so it was good to play a match and get a win fairly comfortably.” Tommy Haas  notched another two important wins beating David Nalbandian and Gilles Simon, against Nalbandian he played the longest tie-break of his career, lost it 11/13, squandering four match points, but saved three break points at 1:2 in the 3rd set to clinch the victory 6-2 6-7 6-3 in 2 hours 22 minutes.
Gold medal match:
(3)Andy Murray [GBR] d. (1)Roger Federer [SUI] 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 [1:56 h]
Déja vu at Wimbledon. Four weeks after Wimbledon’s final, Federer and Murray met again on Centre Court to play other very important match – the Olympic final. Murray knows how to compete against Federer, he was very close to lead 2-0 in sets a month ago, but the style in which he won his gold medal today, I suppose had been unpredictable even for his biggest fans. The initial phase of the match foretold another gripping final between these two men. Federer wasted a double break point in the opening game, Murray one break point leading 2:1. Since 2-all spectators were watching the match in disbelief – Federer lost nine games in a row (!), it’s something had never happened to him before in 78 matches at Wimbledon, and not too many times overall – the last time at the Roland Garros final four years ago when he lost to Rafael Nadal (1-6 3-6 0-6) dropping nine consecutive games as well. In my opinion his marathon match against Del Potro shouldn’t work as an excuse. [Del Potro defeated Djokovic two days after that extraordinary semifinal, in turn Murray was involved on Saturday in two demanding mixed doubles matches while Federer had a day off]. During this astonishing streak of winning games, Murray was playing exceptionally well, he was like a wall in defense, his serve was huge, and the net attacks were impeccable, especially one of them as he saved a break point in the 3rd game of the 2nd set – he saved six break points in total in that game (seven deuces), and it was the crucial moment of the final. The decisive break came at 2-all in the 3rd set, Murray even had a double break point for a 5:2 lead, but Federer survived in fashion, only to suffer two quick service holds of his opponent. Murray finished the singles Olympic competition delivering two aces in succession (210 & 213 kph respectively), and covered his face in joy. It’s his 23rd title, and definitely the biggest one. Murray said: “This week’s been absolutely incredible, I’ve had a lot of fun. I felt so fresh on the court today. I didn’t feel nervous really at all apart from at the beginning of the match. The support’s been unbelievable.”… Stats of the final. I think Murray with this triumph can dig himself out of the “tennis purgatory”, which in his case means being “eternal” No. 4 in the world. It’s a place where he has been balancing for five seasons between being a contender to the biggest triumphs and slumping on lower places in the ATP ranking. The Brit obtained 750 points this week approaching closely to the No. 3 Rafael Nadal. I guess Djokovic and Nadal are exhausted after an unbelievable 15-month rivalry. There’s a question: do their four consecutive huge finals finish some period in the history of tennis, and is it a time for a third big final between Murray and Federer at the US Open? The answer is just five weeks ahead. Both Murray and Djokovic, are supposed to play next week in Toronto (Federer and Nadal withdrew earlier). Both spent the last six weeks on grass, thus they may need a little time for a proper adaptation to the hard-courts. It allows to predict that finally a player outside the “big 4” might win one of the most prestigious tournaments – the last time it occurred 20 months ago in Paris 2010 when Robin Soderling raised the trophy.
Bronze medal match:
(8)Juan Martin del Potro [ARG] d. (2)Novak Djokovic [SRB] 7-5, 6-4 [1:48 h]
The Serbian player lost this match in a very similar style to his semifinal loss: there were two sets of highly entertaining tennis, Djokovic was very close to win one of them but lost both by a small margin – one break of serve on each set. In the 1st set he led 3:2* (40/0) – during that game the match was suspended 68 minutes due to rain – and 5:4 (30/15), but Del Potro managed to hold his serve and broke in the 11th game to finish the set after the longest game of the match (four deuces, Djokovic had two break points). In the 2nd set Del Potro got the vital break in the 3rd game. He was 15/30 down serving for the bronze medal when hit an ace and two service winners. He celebrated this victory on knees, crying, afterwards waving the Argentinian flag. It’s a bit surprising that such a strong tennis nation like Argentina has now collected just two bronze medals – the previous one, Javier Frana and Christian Miniussi had automatically guaranteed after their semifinal defeat in doubles at the Barcelona Olympic Games ’92. “Today I made three fantastic serves in a row in the last game,” said Del Potro. “I had luck to close the match in that game because I was so nervous. If I lost that game, [it] would be really tough to keep fighting for the rest of the match.” It’s the first Olympic medal for Argentina at the Olympics 2012. Does Del Potro come back to the place where he was once? I think so, I thought that he’d be a serious threat reaching the Top 8, which is happening now. It secures him omitting the best guys before quarterfinals of Masters Series and Grand Slam tournaments. It’s extremely important given how strong the Top 4 is, and how difficult opponent for Del Potro, David Ferrer can be.
Gold medal match:
(1)Bob Bryan / Mike Bryan [USA] d. (2)Michael Llodra / Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [FRA] 6-4, 7-6(2)
Bronze medal match:
Julien Benneteau / Richard Gasquet [FRA] d. David Ferrer / Feliciano Lopez [ESP] 7-6(4), 6-2
The Bryan brothers joined their compatriot Andre Agassi on Saturday winning “Golden Grand Slam” (all majors + Olympic gold medal) after beating the French duo in 88 minutes on Centre Court. “This is the biggest win of our career right here,” said Bob Bryan. “It’s unbelievable.” Mike Bryan said, “To play on Centre Court at Wimbledon and win the gold medal is a dream come true. We could stop tomorrow and we got a big smile on our face for the rest of our lives.” The twins join Australians Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde as the only pairs to win multiple medals in the men’s doubles event – four years ago they gained the bronze medal in Beijing. It’s 81st title for Mike and 79th for Bob. The twins dropped one set in the tournament, in the first round on day one (previous Saturday) as they defeated Brazilians, Bellucci/Sa 7-6 6-7 6-3 breaking them once in the entire match at 4:3 in the 3rd set; Bryans came back from a 2:5 deficit in the first tie-break. In the following two matches they played four consecutive tie-breaks (the Russian and Israeli team), in the last two matches defeated the French pairs.
Gold medal match:
(1)Max Mirnyi / Victoria Azarenka [BLR] d. Andy Murray / Laura Robson [GBR] 2-6, 6-3, [10-8]
Bronze medal match:
(3)Mike Bryan / Lisa Raymond [USA] d. Christian Kas / Sabine Lisicki [GER] 6-3, 4-6, [10-4]
The inspired Murray by his impressive singles wins, did all he could to take the pressure off the 18-year-old Laura Robson – the British teenager has never entered the Top 90 in singles or doubles. Murray was motivating and encouraging her during all four matches they played together. The British duo came twice from a 2:5 deficit in the super tie-break, but the Belorussian pair in the final (played after the singles final) was too tough: Mirnyi is one of the biggest doubles specialists, his partner Azarenka – one of the best women in the game. Given these circumstances, the fact Murray and Robson were three points from the gold medal is praiseworthy. Mirnyi used his huge experience on the third match point as he served second-first serve which surprised the returning Murray – he raised the ball too high allowing Azarenka an easy overhead. “This is a dream come true at possibly my last Olympics,” said Mirnyi. “It’s fabulous to win the title. It certainly adds an extra spice to the tournament, it being at Wimbledon.” ‘The Beast’ had won three big titles in mixed doubles before: Wimbledon (1998 – S.Williams) and US Open (1998 – S.Williams, 2007 – V.Azarenka).
Tommy Haas transformed his surprising form he’d displayed in the last few months in Germany onto his second “motherland” – the United States, appearing in his third final of the past five tournaments. He was six points away at 4-all in the 2nd set to grab the title. The final was 3-hour suspended with Haas leading 5:4* in the 1st set. For Alexandr Dolgopolov  it’s the 2nd triumph in an ATP tournament, the first one this year: “For sure, I’m very happy, and especially winning a match like that [which is] really tight, goes up and down, the rain breaks. I’m really happy with myself that I stayed concentrated and was in the match in all the three sets.” Despite the ‘5000’ status, Mardy Fish was the only Top 30 player to participate in the event, which is quite intelligible on account of the Olympics.
S: (2)Alexandr Dolgopolov d. (4)Tommy Haas 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1
D: T.C.Huey/D.Inglot vs K.Anderson/S.Querrey 7-6(7), 6-7(9), [10-5]
(3)Andy Murray d. (2)Novak Djokovic 7-5, 7-5 [2:00 h]
Murray was screaming, cursing, bleeding (left knee), spitting, fist-pumping, hitting his forehead with an open palm, but most of all – he was playing his best tennis, winning plenty of incredible baseline rallies. In short, he did all he could to prevail this ‘dogfight’, and didn’t disappoint the enthusiastic local fans in the end. Both sets had very similar progress, in both Djokovic looked like a dominant figure in the first ten games. In the 1st set Murray needed four ‘deuces’ to held his serve for a 4:3 lead, in the 2nd set the Brit saved a break point in four games (!) – 0:0, 1:1, 4:4, 5:5. Djokovic should have converted his last chance, but on a break point he played too casual forehand from a ‘deuce-box’ creating a possibility for Murray to get back into the rally – “Practically every service game, I had chance in the second set to make a break, especially the one at 5-all. It’s a disappointing loss. But he deserves to be in the final.” In the ultimate game Murray quickly obtained a triple match point. Djokovic made a weird decision attacking the net after the serve – Murray played a good return and the Serb reminded he’s not a virtuoso at the net zone. This outcome means Federer keeps the No. 1 spot for another weeks, at least until the US Open. It also means Murray will get the first Olympic medal in tennis for Great Britain in 100 years (!) – Charles Dixon * won the silver medal at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. Murray said: “Before the tournament started that was the goal [to] try and win a medal. It’s been an amazing month and one of the best of my career. The support that I have had over the last month, after Wimbledon, I really needed it.” Stats of the match
* He lost to Andre Gobert of France 6-8, 4-6, 4-6. Before the Open era tennis events were held at the Olympics in years 1896-1924.
(1)Roger Federer d. (8)Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 7-6(5), 19-17 [4:26 h]
It was an extraordinary 3-set battle. Federer entered this semifinal with an overwhelming 12-2 H2H record, including five wins this season. Actually all Federer’s wins came after similar pattern of a game-plan: mixing the pace with different rotations, and forcing DelPo to errors with short backhand slices. This time this tactics couldn’t work because Del Potro improved volley, implemented solid slice, also as an approach shot, and used the grass speed to obtain many free points, serving predictably on Federer’s backhand, but hard enough to get many cheap points directly after the serve or in the next two/three shots. I didn’t expect he would hold 20 consecutive service games. He broke in the 1st set for a 5:3 lead thanks to two very good returns. Both guys had their break point chances in the 2nd set, Federer leading 1:0 & 3:2, DelPo at 2-all and 4-all, so the Argentine had a mini-match point, it happened when Federer wasted a 40/0 lead with a bunch of silly errors – erased the scare with a forehand winner though. The Swiss forced himself to exceptional effort in defense to get a mini-break in the tie-break. Del Potro leveled up from 1:4 to 4:4, but lost the following two points. Federer converted the second set point with an out-wide ace. The pressure in the deciding set raised, Del Potro responded calmly, he was as cool as Bjorn Borg during his biggest dramatic wins. However, his physical endurance was doubtful – he decided to let a few balls go, a break for Federer seemed a matter of time. Del Potro survived difficult holds in four games, including three games with break points and one with 0/30 (at 8-all) when stunned the crowd winning a rally playing three volleys with the third and the last one, diving! And finally, Federer broke in the 19th game (DelPo’s two double faults). Although he had easily won his last ten service games, Del Potro broke back to ‘love’! It boosted Del Potro’s energy level, and he won another four service games quite convincingly. His big chance came twice, first at 12:11 (30/0) – Federer struck an ace and three service winners, afterwards at 15:14 (deuce) – sent a forehand long after Federer’s second serve. The Swiss in the previous game had a triple mini-match point – Del Potro won five points in a row demonstrating only powerful shots! At 17:17 Del Potro lost his serve to ’15’ making a backhand error after Federer’s desperate forehand slice – the Swiss slided on a seedy grass like on a clay-court. The second attempt for him to serve the match out was successful, albeit Del Potro won three points in that game. It’s the longest ‘best of three’ singles match in history – the previous record was 4:20 hrs as Nduka Odizor battled past Guy Forget 7-6 4-6 22-20 at Queens Club 1987. Federer has now guaranteed at least the silver medal, in turn Del Potro has a tough task to regroup and motivate himself before the 3rd place match. “It is tough to speak now, I feel sad,” said Del Potro. “But Roger played a fantastic match, he is a good winner. I’m very sad at the moment. It’s not an easy situation. Someone always has to win these matches and today it was him.” Stats of the match
Del Potro is relatively young, he has theoretically at least one Olympics ahead, maybe better luck next time… He should take an effort of 32-year-old Michael Llodra as a positive example. The Frenchman four years ago in Beijing lost an Olympic semifinal match as a favorite teaming up Arnaud Clement 17-19 in the 3rd set to the Swedish pair (Aspelin/T.Johansson). When Del Potro lost his match to Federer, Llodra alongside Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was playing on Court No. 1 against the Spanish duo Felicnao Lopez and David Ferrer. The Spaniards had many opportunities to win the match, they led in the deciding set: *2:0 (40/0), 5:4 (30/0), 9:8 (40/0), 11:10 (adv.) – all four match points were saved on Llodra’s serve. At 16-all the Spaniards led 40/15 on Ferrer’s serve but lost that game – Ferrer automatically broke his racquet in anger (his raised the ball too high playing a passing-shot and Tsonga made a put away with his double-handed backhand volley). In the following game the serving Llodra won three straight points since 15/30, and the Frenchmen celebrated the 6-3 4-6 18-16 victory in ecstasy. Llodra: “Four years ago I was just two points off a medal so obviously I am delighted I will go home with one this time.” This dramatic semifinal lasted 3 hours 30 minutes. Earlier, in the first semifinal, the Bryans like Llodra, avenged their semifinal loss from Beijing, outplaying the other French team: Julien Benneteau / Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-4.
Andy Murray displayed brilliant service performance during his 59-minute 6-4 6-1 victory over Nicolas Almagro. The Brit fired 15 aces at 82% 1st serve in. The Spaniard was complaining the entire match on his right sore arm. Anyway it’s Almagro’s best result on grass, he never won three matches in a row on this surface before. “It’s great, that was the goal coming into the tournament,” said Murray about entering the medal zone, “It’s nice to get the opportunity. It makes a big difference to play in front of a home crowd. It does add a little bit of extra pressure, but it helps raise your game.” In the semifinal Murray meets Novak Djokovic – it’ll be their first grass-court encounter. Perhaps Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was too tired against Djokovic in the second quarterfinal. The Frenchman had already played five matches (3 singles, 2 doubles) including a marathon with Raonic, which actually consisted of “three best of three matches”. Tsonga’s forehand was erratic, and even when he led 3:0* in the 2nd set Djokovic’s superiority wasn’t questionable. The Serb won 6-1 7-5 to reach the medal circle second straight Olympics. He noticed: “I was very sharp, very aggressive from the start. I think it was the windiest day I’ve played here in recent years“…
No upsets also in the top half of the draw. Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro won their matches after identical scoreline: 6-4 7-6. Del Potro failed to close out both sets, but stayed cool and out-rallied Kei Nishikori, winning 8th tie-break in a row. Federer broke John Isner once, it was enough to dismiss the tall American, who didn’t survive a tie-break this time – facing first match point he served well, but Federer’s hallmark shot – backhand slice – hit the net-cord and dropped slowly on the half of the hopeless Isner… After men’s quarterfinals there was finished the first round in mixed doubles. Five players participated in three events at this year’s Olympics: Philipp Petzschner, Andreas Seppi, Mikhail Youzhny, Andy Murray and Radek Stepanek. Neither of them managed to win a match in each competition.
Grass-courts help in breaking records. Just one day after an epic duel between Tsonga and Raonic, another record – this time in doubles – was broken during a second-round match between Brazilians (Marcelo Melo / Bruno Soares) and Czechs (Tomas Berdych / Radek Stepanek). When they started on Tuesday seemed it would be a very short match. The Czechs led 6-1 4:2* (30/15), but the Brazilians broke back and were unbreakable another 19 games on serve! The Czechs had a match point on three occasions in the 3rd set – 6:5, 16:15 & 18:17. When Melo and Soares leveled at 18-all officials decided to suspend the encounter due to darkness. After the resumption on Wednesday it was “6-4” for Brazilians who broke Stepanek’s serve at 22-all, and finished the contest in the following game at ‘love’ after 3 hours 13 minutes. Melo – co-holder of the longest doubles 5th set in terms of games – said: “We knew that the match was going to be tough, but not like this and especially after yesterday when we stopped for bad light. It was a great atmosphere [and] a great match – especially because we won.” It’s the longest three-set men’s doubles match in terms of number of games (63) and games of the final set (improved by eight) in Olympic history #.
Another Olympic record has been broken in singles – John Isner ousted Janko Tipsarevic 7-5 7-6(14) – the previous longest tie-break was “barely” 13/11 as Albert Costa beat Sebastien Lareau 7-6 6-4 in Atlanta 1996. Tipsarevic led 6:4 in the tie-break, later on had four set points on return, but Isner  is a tie-break master, and prevailed 10th breaker in succession.
Favorites in the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray faced a scare during their third round matches. Especially Djokovic, who was two games away from a sensational elimination from Lleyton Hewitt‘s  hands. The former No. 1 reminded he’s a Wimbledon former champion and used all his experience to come back in the 2nd set from 3:5 to 5:5. Unfortunately for the Aussie fans it was all he could deliver on the day, and Djokovic won 4-6 7-5 6-1. The Serb commented: “He was serving really well, with a lot of efficiency. I just needed to step in a bit. That’s what I did [and] I changed the momentum in the middle of the second set when I made a break. Yes, he [broke back], but I felt I got back into the match.” Marcos Baghdatis is a tough match-up for Andy Murray. They met in the third round at Wimbledon four weeks ago and the Scot survived a complicated 4-setter. Again Wimbledon, again third round, and again physically demanding battle with plenty of shots of a different kind was successfully concluded for the British hope. The crucial point of the match came at 2:1* for Murray in the 2nd set, when Baghdatis missed a forehand from a comfortable position trying to save a break point. It affected his resistance and he lost altogether seven games in a row. He was fighting bravely in the decider, escaping twice from a possible double break down, but Murray, supported by the home-crowd kept his composure to finish the match by a 4-6 6-1 6-4 margin with a powerful cross-court forehand followed up by a resonant roar.
According to seeds the quarterfinal line-up should inter alia consists of Tipsarevic and Tomas Berdych, but Isner and Nicolas Almagro, who advanced instead, are Top 10 contenders so there’s no way to think about them as unpredictable quarter-finalists. Therefore, Kei Nishikori‘s quarterfinal appearance is the only surprise in some respects. The Japanese after nine consecutive holds was leading 5:4* in the 3rd set against David Ferrer (last two games 6 & 3 deuces) on Court No. 14 when the officials decided to move this match onto Centre Court due to bad lights as the Olympians approached 9 p.m. of the local time. Approximately 20 minutes later, they entered Centre Court under the roof. Nishikori  played two great backhands, Ferrer committed a double fault and found himself at 15/40. Nishikori attacked the second serve with his top-spin forehand to force an error of the Spaniard: 6-0 3-6 6-4 was the final score. It’s a great news to Juan Martin Del Potro, who was recently beaten by Ferrer twice, whereas four weeks ago defeated Nishikori easily at Wimbledon.
# The longest – in terms of games – deciding 3rd set in doubles:
1997 Australian Open, 1R – W.Arthurs / J.Irleand d. C.Brandi / F.Messori 6-3, 3-6, 29-27
2012 Olympics, 2R – M.Melo / B.Soares d. T.Berdych / R.Stepanek 2-6, 6-4, 24-22
1995 Wimbledon, q – R.Matuszewski / T.Nelson d. T.J.Middleton / A.Thoms 6-4, 4-6, 23-21
2011 Wimbledon, 1R – J.Cabal / R.Farah d. R.Bopanna / A.Qureshi 2-6, 6-2, 21-19
1984 Australian Open, 2R – D.Gitlin / H.Pfister d. S.Davis / B.Testermann 2-6, 7-6, 20-18
2008 Olympics, SF – S.Aspelin / T.Johansson d. A.Clement / M.Llodra 7-6, 4-6, 19-17
First Olympic tennis event on grass, first at the Grand Slam venue and for the first time including a mixed doubles competition… It’s a unique opportunity to watch “the best of three” matches at Wimbledon, and players wearing national colors instead of required white. Also the general decoration changed its look – additional purple color around the courts is visible, obviously with the Olympic flag here and there. The Olympics is the only tennis event which isn’t preceded by qualifying rounds, 64 guys enter automatically, this year five countries were allowed to appoint four players #. The defending champion Rafael Nadal  due to knee injury was forced to withdraw: “I am not in [a] condition to compete in the London Olympics and therefore will not travel as planned with the Spanish delegation to take part in the games. It is one of the saddest days of my career. You can imagine how difficult it was to take this decision.” He was replaced by Feliciano Lopez. Other Top 20 players who didn’t enter the tournament: Mardy Fish , Philipp Kohlschreiber  and Gael Monfils . Kohlschreiber was applied to the main draw but withdrew (just like four years ago in Beijing) after the final in Kitzbuhel where he worsened his foot injury (at least advanced from No. 23 to 16 playing in Austria when others were preparing for London…). It was a very lucky circumstance for Blazs Kavcic , because Kohlschreiber’s substitute Vishnu Vardhan  of India is a Futures level player, and the Slovenian beat him easily obtaining first win on grass in seven attempts.
Roger Federer  is the main contender for the title after recapturing Wimbledon crown last month. The Swiss needs only Olympic gold medal to his awesome collection (he failed to get a medal of any kind in three previous Olympic appearances ##), and the chance is exceptional because the tournament is held on Federer’s favorite venue. The 31-year-old Federer may never return to the Olympics. He had tricky opening matches. First he took Alejandro Falla , who almost eliminated Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon ’10 in the first round. This time Federer built a solid lead, but wasted a triple match point being 5:3* ahead in the 2nd set, and finally won 6-3 5-7 6-3 – his 13th victory despite a losing m.p.-up set. Federer admitted on Monday that the prospect of winning a singles gold medal would be a “dream come true… because I definitely get inspired by the 1992 victory by Marc Rosset.” In the second round Federer faced Julien Benneteau – his toughest opponent at Wimbledon four weeks ago. The Frenchman couldn’t repeat the resistance and managed to win just four games. Federer next awaits Denis Istomin – the Uzbek confirmed that reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon a month ago wasn’t a fluke. In a 2-hour-37-minute duel of hard serves, Istomin saved a double match point at *5:6 (15/40) in the 2nd set to beat Gilles Muller 6-7 7-6 7-5. Feliciano Lopez  has been already involved in a longer 3rd set in three matches, in both, singles and doubles. First on Saturday, in doubles teaming up David Ferrer, overcame the Polish duo (Fyrstenberg/Matkowski) 7-6 6-7 8-6 – the Spaniards were two points away from defeat; on Monday in singles he survived a 6-7 6-2 9-7 thriller over the aging Dmitry Tursunov, came back on court a couple hours later to win 11-9 in the doubles final set against the Austrians (Melzer/Peya).
Nadal’s withdrawal may help Federer, because Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are gathered in the same section of the draw. Federer’s highest ranked possible opponent before the final – Ferrer – has an awful 0-13 record against the Swiss. Djokovic and Murray in two opening matches showed very good, comprehensive tennis and their semifinal is almost guaranteed. Murray in each of his matches (both indoors) against experienced and dangerous players (Wawrinka, Nieminen) lost just six games, Djokovic admittedly lost the initial set of the tournament in inconvenient circumstances (his match with F.Fognini was halted due to rain at 7:7 in the 1st set tie-break), but in the next two he was a dominant figure, afterwards dispatched Andy Roddick 6-2 6-1 in barely 56 minutes. Roddick, once the biggest server on the tour, this time was outplayed even in aces (5-14). Who knows, maybe it was Djokovic’s best service performance ever, in the final game he delivered four aces, including two in a row in the last two points…
Big servers, Milos Raonic  and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  overcame Lopez’s singles effort explicitly with their 66-game match, which lasted 3 hours 56 minutes on Court No. 1. Their second round clash was suspended due to rain for almost three hours at 2:1* for Tsonga in the 3rd set. After the break the Frenchman saved three break points in the 5th game, since then, they were holding service games convincingly over a long time. Tsonga was close to get the decisive break twice (match point at 16:15 & 21:20), Raonic once – mini-match point at 11-all. Ultimately at 24:23 Raonic faded – made two errors in a row at the net to face a triple match point. He saved the first one – in that game – with a service winner, but on the second match point Tsonga played an amazing point in a deep defense (slipped twice), lobbed the Canadian and finished the point with a drop-volley, some part of spectators could think he finished it with an enthusiastic overhead because Raonic chased the volley only to play a hopeless lob, but the ball already bounced twice on his half of the court. “At the end, I was just very happy for my country,” said Tsonga. “I did it for them, and that’s it.” Raonic despite the bitter loss congratulated Tsonga with a smile on his face and joked afterwards: “I don’t think I can say too much about it now. Maybe next time, I will sort of ask my opponent, ‘Do you want to play a long match and let’s take it seriously from 26-26?’” Raonic was better in aces: 26-17, he won also two points more in total (180-178). It’s the longest deciding 3rd set in the Open era, with six games overcoming the previous record ### which unofficially was held by Tsonga’s compatriot Nicolas Mahut, who a couple days before his legendary match against John Isner, had won a qualifying round at Wimbledon, beating Alex Bogdanovic 24-22 in the 3rd set.
# Singles participants in regard of nationalities:
Seoul 1988 – 31 nationalities: 3 representatives – Mexico, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Spain, Nigeria, Italy, Israel, Soviet Union, USA & South Korea; 2 – Sweden, Austria, Paraguay, Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, Yugoslavia, Denmark & Argentina; 1 – Switzerland, Japan, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Poland, Netherlands, Greece, India, Brazil, New Zealand and Ivory Coast
Barcelona 1992 – 34 nationalities: 3 representatives – USA, India, Spain, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Netherlands, Argentina & Germany; 2 – Switzerland, Morocco, South Africa, Austria, Croatia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Great Britain & CIS; 1 – Israel, Czechoslovakia, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Canada, Norway, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bahamas, Denmark, Romania, South Korea, Japan and Ireland
Atlanta 1996 – 36 nationalities: 3 representatives – USA, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Australia, Netherlands & Argentina; 2 – Slovakia, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Romania, Great Britain, Zimbabwe, France, South Africa, Denmark, Ecuador, Czech Republik, Venezuela, Canada & Germany; 1 – Japan, Switzerland, Morocco, Uruguay, India, Armenia, Hungary, Bahamas, Nigeria, Haiti, New Zealand, Brazil, Russia, Norway and Croatia
Sydney 2000 – 32 nationalities: 4 representatives – Australia, France, Spain, Argentina, USA, Sweden & Germany; 3 – Czech Republik & Great Britain; 2 – Russia, Canada, Slovakia, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Chile & Croatia; 1 – Switzerland, India, Italy, Morocco, Bolivia, South Africa, Norway, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Costa Rica, Denmark, Thailand, Armenia, Brazil and Benin
Athens 2004 – 32 nationalities: 4 representatives – Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Sweden & USA; 3 – Croatia, Slovakia & Argentina; 2 – Czech Republik, Morocco, Belgium, Australia, Romania, Chile, Brazil & Belarus; 1 – Switzerland, Italy, Algeria, Thailand, Armenia, Canada, Ecuador, Austria, Finland, Taipei, Cyprus, Great Britain, Peru, Greece and South Korea
Beijing 2008 – 33 nationalities: 4 representatives – Russia, Spain, Czech Republik, France & Argentina; 3 – Italy, China, Sweden & USA; 2 – Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Australia, Germany, Belgium & Serbia; 1 – South Korea, Salvador, Slovakia, Latvia, Ecuador, South Africa, Togo, Belarus, Croatia, Romania, Finland, Japan, Taipei, Great Britain, Bahamas, Austria
London 2012 – 34 nationalities: 4 representatives – France, Spain, Russia, USA & Argentina; 3 – Belgium, Serbia & Japan; 2 – Switzerland, Colombia, Slovakia, Canada, India, Czech Republik, Australia, Italy & Croatia; 1 – Luxembourg, Romania, Uzbekistan, Tunisia, Taipei, Germany, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Poland, Netherlands, Cyprus, Finland, Great Britain, Brazil, Austria and Ukraine
## Players to participate at least in the third Olympics (singles):
4 – Roger Federer (2000-12); 3 – Lleyton Hewitt (2000, 2008-12), Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, Olivier Rochus, Jurgen Melzer, Jarkko Nieminen, Yen-Hsun Lu (2004-12)
### The longest – in terms of games – deciding 3rd set in singles (all in London):
2012 Olympics, 2R – JW.Tsonga d. M.Raonic 6-3, 3-6, 25-23
2010 Wimbledon, q – N.Mahut d. A.Bogdanovic 3-6, 6-3, 24-22
1979 Wimbledon, q – A.Marshal d. R.Stock 4-6, 6-3, 23-21
1999 Wimbledon, q – J.Thomas d. S.Prieto 6-4, 4-6, 23-21
2005 Wimbledon, q – C.Guccione d. O.Patience 4-6, 7-6, 23-21
1987 Queens Club, 2R – N.Odizor d. G.Forget 7-6, 4-6, 22-20
It was the last successful major event of two great veterans: 31-year-old Ivan Lendl  and 39-year-old Jimmy Connors . Both reached the semifinals overcoming an astonishing road to the last 4. The former, never a crowd-favorite, didn’t receive too much attention after beating three hardest servers on the tour at the time, in dramatic 3.5 hrs matches (Krajicek, Ivanisevic, Stich); the latter stole the show from everyone prevailing miraculously 5-setters in first and fourth round. But at the end it was Stefan Edberg , who raised the trophy. The 25-year-old Swede, had had four majors won on grass-courts, so the US Open triumph meant a lot to him. He was struggling in the initial rounds against inferior opponents, but in the last two matches displayed the best tennis of his life. Read more…
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A holder of a weak 1-6 record lately, Robin Haase  is well adjusted to the hight altitude – in Kitzbuhel (800 m), as a defending champion, he won his second career title. Just like a year before, he got … Continue reading
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In the Wimbledon doubles third round, Arnaud Clement (alongside Michael Llodra) played his last professional match. The 34-year-old Frenchman failed his qualifying attempt to play once again in the Wimbledon’s main draw in singles. His entire career was quite balanced … Continue reading