Monday, 15 August 2016

Puig wins Gold for Puerto Rico

While it is still hard for me to grasp Olympic tennis as a tournament in the same sense as the standard ATP or WTA calendar events, being just one of many sports within the greater Olympiad experience, the athletes who choose to compete treat it even more seriously than their weekly fare.

This has been borne out by many of the results from Rio, beginning with the highly unexpected early defeats of top seeds - Novak Djokovic in the first round and Serena Williams in the second round.  Their opponents, Juan Martin Del Potro and Elina Svitolina, lifted as if it were a Davis Cup or Fed Cup tie because it was a nation's hopes resting on the individual performance.

The Williams sisters lost their doubles clash in the first round, but to a combination of sufficient quality to make an immediate exit not so much of a shock.  Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova would eventually win the bronze medal match held between the semi final losers, overcoming another Czech pair Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova.

The gold medal deservedly was hung around the necks of Russian pair Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who had the advantage of already being doubles partners on tour.  They defeated Switzerland's entry of Martina Hingis and Timea Bacsinsky, the 2016 silver medalists.

Rafa Nadal eventually lost his battle for singles bronze, but had already secured gold in the men's doubles for Spain with Marc Lopez.  The duo overcame Romania's Horia Tecau and Florin Mergea who grabbed silver.
The US team of Jack Sock and Steve Johnson won bronze after winning the play off against another North American pair, Canada's Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor.

Jack Sock won another medal, this one gold, as the US triumphed in Mixed Doubles.  He teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and together they defeated Rajeev Ram and Venus Williams, who ensured that Rio would at least not be medal-less for the sisters with silver also heading to America.
Bronze was captured by the Czech team Lucie Hradecka and Radek Stepanek who edged out India's Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna.

The highlight of the tennis in Rio was Monica Puig from Puerto Rico.  Unseeded, but having a pretty good season, it was never expected that she would be capable of defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round, Roland Garros champ Garbine Muguruza in the third round, dual Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova in the semi final and to top it off second seed and reigning Aus Open champ Angie Kerber in the final.
Gold medal glory for Monica and the first in Olympic history for her country of Puerto Rico.  Germany won the silver through Kerber, and Petra won the bronze medal following her win over American Madison Keys in their play off.

The men's bronze was won by Japan thanks to Kei Nishikori, who was the player denying Rafa and Spain.  Kei had previously lost his semi to reigning Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray who would be defending his title against Juan Martin Del Potro.  The Argentine had already knocked off current world number one Djokovic, and in the semi final former number one Nadal, to reach the final.

Murray appeared set for a gold medal repeat after taking set one, but Del Potro came back to level. Murray easily won the third and despite being down a break of serve a number of times in the fourth, eventually leaving Del Potro to serve for the set, the number two seed denied Argentina and sealed another Olympic win for himself and Great Britain.

In another part of the world slightly fewer people were aware that third seed Ivo Karlovic defeated top seed Feliciano Lopez to capture Mexico's Los Cabos title. 

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