By Randy Walker
What Andy Murray couldn’t do at Wimbledon, he could do in Olympic tennis.
Four weeks after losing a heart-breaking Wimbledon singles final to Roger Federer, Andy Murray of Britain turned the tables on the greatest tennis player of all time on the very same court in dramatic fashion, easily defeating the seven-time Wimbledon singles champion from Switzerland 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 to win the Olympic gold medal in men’s tennis.
Winless in four major singles finals, including his 2012 Wimbledon loss and three previous major singles finals to Federer, Murray was finally able break through and win on one of the grandest stages in all of sport. While not as famous as the 76-year drought since the last British man, Fred Perry, won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1936, the last British man to win Olympic singles gold was 104 years ago in 1908 when Josiah Ritchie was the Olympic champion. Curiously, the 1908 Olympic tennis event was also played at the All England Club at Wimbledon, although the event was staged down the road at the former Worple Road facility just down the road from the present location of the club.
Murray, ranked No. 4 in the world, was energized throughout the one hour, 56-minute match against the No. 1 ranked Federer, lifted by the strength of his serving game and his blistering returns of serve. While the raucously pro-Murray crowd lifted the spirits and adrenaline of Murray, the 30-year-old Federer appeared sluggish at times and disconsolate as the one-sided match wore on.
If there was a turning point in the match, it was the third game of the second set when Federer was not able to connect on any of his six break point opportunities that could have placed him back in the match. Instead, the 25-year-old Murray consolidated his service break to take a 3-0 lead, then broke Federer again to take 4-0 lead and the rout was on. Murray actually swept nine straight games during the stretch from 2-2 in the first set until 5-0 in the second set, breaking Federer’s serve an incredible four straight times.
After rain earlier in the day forced the women’s doubles gold medal match to be played under the Wimbledon roof, the skies then cleared and the roof was opened for the men’s final, benefitting Murray as Federer’s game excels in the faster, more controlled conditions of indoor tennis. During the Wimbledon final played between the two last month, the roof was closed for the final two sets, Federer winning them convincingly.
The Olympic gold medal is the one major singles achievement that is missing from the incredible resume of Federer, the owner of a record 17 major singles titles, including a record-tying seven singles titles at Wimbledon. Federer was looking to join Serena Williams, the women’s singles gold medal winner, and complete a “Career Golden Grand Slam” this year at the All England Club, winning all four major singles titles and a singles gold medal in a career. He did win Olympic gold in men’s doubles at the 2008 Olympics with countryman Stan Wawrinka, but did not medal in singles in his three previous Olympic singles appearances. Federer was the No. 1 seed in men’s singles in three of his four Olympic singles appearances, but has not been able to secure the ultimate prize. Federer’s loss means that the No. 1 ranked man in the world still has not Olympic gold since since tennis returned to the Olympic program after a 64-year hiatus in 1988. Andre Agassi, ranked No. 6 but seeded No. 1 at the 1996 Games, is the only top-seeded man to win Olympic gold.
Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina won the bronze medal in men’s singles, upsetting world No. 2 Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-4 in the third-place playoff. The Argentine lost to Federer in Friday’s epic semifinal, a 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 19-17 decision that lasted 4 hours, 26 minutes, the longest three-set men’s singles match of the Open era (since 1968).
Murray was unable to turn a gold medal double on the day, falling in the gold medal match in mixed doubles with 18-year-old Laura Robson, losing by a two-point margin in a 10-point match tie-breaker to the Belarussian team of Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka 2-6, 6-3, (10-8).
The following is how I tweeted the men’s singles gold medal match via my twitter handle @TennisPublisher.
RT @SI_BTBaseline: Ted Robinson puts it perfectly. The roof opening isn’t necessarily an advantage for Murray, but it negates an advantage for Federer.
@TennisPublisher: “When Wimbledon is going on, it’s all about Murray. During Olympics, it’s all about Britain” – McEnroe suggesting not as much pressure on AM
@TennisPublisher: Read of Roger Federer’s life and times in biography of him “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0942257723?ie=UTF8&tag=newchapre-20&linkCode=shr&camp=213733&creative=393185&creativeASIN=0942257723&qid=1339167947&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1… Wimbledon Murray Bolt
@TennisPublisher: Roger Federer’s forehand rated No. 1 all time by Steve Flink in GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME bookhttp://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Tennis-Matches-All-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344172591&sr=1-1&keywords=the+greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time…Wimbledon Bolt
@TennisPublisher: “Murray for the gold, serving first,” says John McEnroe on NBC as the match begins!
@TennisPublisher: Andy Murray playing not only for gold, but probably for Knighthood! Sir Andy anyone?
@TennisPublisher: Federer with 15-40 on Murray’s serve in the first game. If I recall, Federer was broken in the first game of the Wimbledon final vs. Andy
@TennisPublisher: McEnroe suggesting that Federer’s backhand is as good as it has ever been….
@TennisPublisher: Murray saves both break points, on second serves as Ted Robison points out. Federer misses to shots in the net.
@TennisPublisher: Another crying baby in the crowd. “Bring babies to beach volleyball or some of those sports where they are screaming all the time” says Mac
@TennisPublisher: Murray wins four points in a row to hold in the first game. He leads 1-0.
@TennisPublisher: “Three loose points,” says McEnroe on NBC as Federer goes from 30-0 to break point, serving at 1-2. Ace to save the break point for Fed.
@TennisPublisher: Read all about Olympic history in THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS here http://www.amazon.com/The-Collins-History-Tennis-Authoritative/dp/0942257707/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343951335&sr=8-1&keywords=bud+collins+history+of+tennis #OlympicTennis#London2012 Wimbledon
@TennisPublisher: 0-30 hole for Federer, serving at 2-3. Murray misses backhand pass at net. “He is absolutely disgusted with himself” says McEnroe of AM
@TennisPublisher: Jacques Rogge, IOC President, in the house for Roger Federer vs. Andy Murray gold medal match!
@TennisPublisher: Duke of Kent, who hands out Wimbledon trophies annually, is in attendance. Will he present the medals? Honor likely to go to IOC Prez Rogge
@NeilHarmanTimes: Lord Coe arrives as Murray nails a terrific backhand down the line to take first set 6-2 and will serve 1st in 2nd set
@TennisPublisher: “Federer is clearly pressing right now. Murray is settling in.” says McEnroe on NBC. “A lot of pressure on Federer at the moment.”
@TennisPublisher: Net cord winner from Murray for 0-40 advantage on Federer’s serve at 6-2, 1-0. Murray breaks with forehand winner. Murray leads 6-2, 2-0
@TennisPublisher: As impressive as Andy Murray has been beating Federer, del Potro leading Djokovic in the bronze match is even more impressive
@TennisPublisher: “Incredibly loose game” says McEnroe as Murray is in 15-40 hole, but saves both break points, last with a stab volley winner
@TennisPublisher: McEnroe says Federer is passive with his break point chances, but Fed secures another with forehand pass
@TennisPublisher: Murray saves third break point of this game. Faces another. Federer stepping up. “He knows he has to get it together here” says Mac of Fed
@TennisPublisher: Federer has fifth service break chance this game. Murray playing a bit tentative, says McEnroe. Murray fights off with strong baseline play
@TennisPublisher: Break point opportunity No. 6 for Federer in this game. “Federer very resilient this game,” says McEnroe. Federer misses forehand. Deuce.
@TennisPublisher: Murray has a game point for a 3-0 lead in second set, but he commits a backhand unforced error into the net. “A bad hop” says McEnroe on NBC
@TennisPublisher: Murray hits miracle backhand down the line pass as Federer approaches to net off Murray second serve. Advantage to Murray
@TennisPublisher: “This is an incredible display from Murray,” says McEnroe on NBC. Murray with a break point, but Rog saves it. “Come on” he shouts
@TennisPublisher: Federer definitely looks sluggish on the last few points. Murray is perky. Federer double faults on break point. Murray leads 6-2, 4-0.
@TennisPublisher: The last Brit to win Olympic men’s singles gold was Josiah Ritchie at 1908 Games, also in London, at Wimbledon, but at Worple Road courts
RT @Ringham7: 6-2, 5-0 to Murray over Federer. Unreal scoreline. Tim Henman says there will be a reaction from Federer at some stage. Let’s see
RT @TennisNewsViews: Del Potro wins the bronze medal against Djokovic… he is a very emotional man right now…
RT @WimboGroundsman: Federer serves out a game to avoid the bagel
@TennisPublisher: “Who would have thought that I would be at Equestrian” says McEnroe on NBC
@TennisPublisher: Murray wins second set, leads Federer 6-2, 6-1. Gold medal and probable knighthood is one set away!
@TennisPublisher: “There is no other way to say it but that is a stunning scoreline for two sets,” says Ted Robinson on NBC as Federer trails Murray 6-2, 6-1
@TennisPublisher: Many athletes have lost championships when picturing themselves with the trophy too soon, Example Adam Scott at Open golf just last month
@TennisPublisher: “This would be impressive even by Federer’s standards if he were to come back and win the gold,” McEnroe on NBC. Murray leads 62 61
@TennisPublisher: “This is now critical time,” says McEnroe on NBC as Murray as two break points at 2-2 in third set.
@TennisPublisher: “Now they start to taste it on Centre Court,” says Ted Robinson on NBC as Murray breaks to take 3-2 lead in third set
@TennisPublisher: “This is the first time in a while where Roger Federer has looked his age,” says John McEnroe on NBC of the soon-to-be 31 Swiss
@TennisPublisher: “This is the No. 1 player in the world and look what Andy Murray is doing to him,” says McEnroe on NBC
@TennisPublisher: Djokovic wins in Australia, Nadal in Paris, Federer at Wimbledon, Murray at Olympics, McEnroe suggests US Open champion is No. 1 for year
@TennisPublisher: Would Olympic gold for Andy Murray propel him to major singles titles and No. 1 ranking like it did for Lindsay Davenport after 1996 gold?
@TennisPublisher: The last time Brit won Olympic men’s singles gold was last time Olympic tennis was played at Wimbledon: 1908 but tennis at Worple Rd courts
@TennisPublisher: Last British man to win Wimbledon men’s singles was 1936. Last British man to win Olympic singles gold was 1908.
@TennisPublisher: Murray holds for 5-3. One game from gold for the future Sir Andy!
@TennisPublisher: Federer holds for 5-4. Murray set to serve for gold. Very quiet for once on the changeover. Disbelief?
@TennisPublisher: Biggest service game of Andy Murray’s life
@TennisPublisher: “He probably has a heart rate of about 200 right now,” McEnroe on Murray as he is two points from gold
@TennisPublisher: Ace for Murray. Two match points.
@TennisPublisher: Ace down the t for Murray. He wins the gold medal and drops to his knees. Federer smiles at him as they shake hands.
@TennisPublisher: Nice of Roger Federer’s agent Tony Godsick to help Murray into the player box so he can hug his friends and family
@TennisPublisher: “Seems that Roger Federer has handled the loss with class as he always does,” says John McEnroe on NBC as Federer leaves the court
@TennisPublisher: “Even Ivan is smiling” says John McEnroe of Murray’s coach Ivan Lendl, who is not in London this week with his pupil
@TennisPublisher: Final scoreline Murray defeats Federer 62 61 64 to become first Brit since Josiah Ritchie in 1908 to win Olympic men’s singles gold
@TennisPublisher: “No way would I expect that scoreline in the final” says Andy Murray to John McEnroe on NBC of decisive win over Roger Federer
@TennisPublisher: “It’s the biggest win of my life for sure,” says Andy Murray to John McEnroe on NBC of his Olympic men’s singles gold
@TennisPublisher: “I know how this feels and it feels great,” Murray to McEnroe on NBC on how Olympic gold feels versus a Grand Slam singles title
@TennisPublisher: “They helped me get a few extra miles per hour on my serve in that last game,” says Murray of the crowd support in Olympic gold medal match.
@TennisPublisher: “I didn’t feel that nervous.I felt much more comfortable on the court” said Murray to McEnroe, comparing feeling of Wimbledon final pressure
@TennisPublisher Read all about Olympic history in THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS here http://www.amazon.com/The-Collins-History-Tennis-Authoritative/dp/0942257707/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343951335&sr=8-1&keywords=bud+collins+history+of+tennis … #OlympicTennis#London2012 #AndyMurray