Magic Murray, Williams sisters savour golden glory
LONDON (AFP): Andy Murray savoured the biggest win of his career after thrashing Roger Federer to win Olympic gold on Sunday as the Williams sisters made history with victory in the women’s doubles.
Just four weeks ago, Murray left the All England Club in tears after losing to Federer in his maiden Wimbledon final, but the Scot made amends for that heartbreaking defeat with a sublime 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 demolition of the Swiss great on Centre Court.
Earlier at Wimbledon, America’s Venus and Serena Williams had beaten Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 6-4, 6-4 to become the first tennis players to win four Olympic gold medals.
But it was an astonishing display from Murray that stole the spotlight on the final day of the tennis event.
Murray has endured the frustration and angst of four Grand Slam final defeats, including three against Federer, which led some to suggest he wasn’t able to cut it at the very highest level.
But his first gold medal is the perfect riposte to those critics. After beating Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and then crushing Federer, the Scot has taken down the top two players in the world without dropping a set.
He was simply magnificent against Federer and achieved the remarkable feat of reducing the 17-time Grand Slam winner to the role of frustrated bystander on his favourite court.
Murray was denied a second gold when he and Laura Robson lost 2-6, 6-3, 10/8 in the mixed doubles final against Belarus’s Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka, but that was never going to take the shine off the best moment of his career.
“That’s number one for me. The biggest win of my life,” he said. “This week’s been absolutely incredible. I’ve had a lot of fun.
“I’ve lost some tough matches in some tough finals and that’s hurt me a lot. But this is the best way to come back from the Wimbledon final. I’ll never forget it.
“I didn’t feel nervous really at all apart from at the beginning of the match.
“Once I got through that first set and held at 2-0 in the second I felt much better. But no way did I expect a scoreline like that.”
For seven-time Wimbledon champion Federer it was a chastening experience to be beaten so badly with a first singles gold medal within touching distance.
It was the 30-year-old’s worst major final defeat since the 2008 French Open against Rafael Nadal and he may never get another chance to win gold.
Although Federer was happy to praise Murray’s performance, he insisted he was feeling the mental strain of a gruelling four hours and 26 minutes on court in his semi-final win over Juan Martin del Potro.
“Maybe there was so much emotion already out of me that potentially today that kind of hindered me from playing my absolute very best,” he said.
“For me, it’s always been a dream to be part of the Olympic spirit. I didn’t want to just have it go on for one day. I tried everything I could in singles and doubles and it was very emotional.
“The Del Potro match emphasised all of that and made it go to some crazy extremes. But I’m happy I had a match like this, even though it may have cost me the finals.”
Meanwhile, Venus and Serena continued their Olympic doubles reign by defending the title they won for the second time in Beijing in 2008.
With Serena having won singles gold against Maria Sharapova on Saturday and Venus winning the individual event in Sydney in 2000, the sisters, who first won doubles gold in 2000, have set a new benchmark for Olympic tennis excellence.
“There’s something about standing next to Venus and holding that gold medal,” We’re pretty stoked about it,” Serena said.
Venus added: “It just feels unreal. I would say this is more special than (when she won) Wimbledon.”