Bencic and Zverev capture Gold in their Olympic debuts
ZVEREV STUNS DJOKOVIC. BENCIC MAKES SWISS OLYMPIC HISTORY.
A year late, and shoe-horned into the tennis calendar amid a global pandemic, Tokyo 2020 delivered high-drama for fans of the sport’s elite. International emcee Andy Taylor returned for his third Olympic Games as center court’s English announcer at Ariake Tennis Forest Park.
MENS SINGLES. Alexander Zverev earned Germany’s first Olympic Gold tennis medal since Steffi Graf topped the podium in 1988 — upsetting World #1 Novak Djokovic to reach the championship match. In pursuit of the Calendar Golden Slam, the World #1 and 2008 Bronze medalist then fell to Pablo Carreno Busta. After back-to-back losses, a physically and mentally exhausted Djokovic withdrew from the Mixed Doubles competition. As a result, Ashleigh Barty and John Peers won Mixed Doubles Bronze with a walkover.
WOMENS SINGLES. The Women’s Singles Draw raised eyebrows, as well. Belinda Bencic earned Switzerland’s first tennis Gold medal. The World #12 defeated Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova in a nail-biting Saturday night Final. Vondrousova, nervous she might not get a chance to represent her country thanks to a stacked Czech roster, ensured her spot in the initial Olympic entry list by using a protected ranking of World #16. Clearly, it was a solid strategy. Marketa’s run to the 2019 Roland Garros Singles Final paid dividends: She is an Olympic Silver Medalist. Not to mention, in the Round of 16, she knocked-out the “Face of Tokyo 2020,” Naomi Osaka – who lit the Olympic cauldron on opening night.
WOMENS DOUBLES. Bencic wasn’t satisfied with Singles Gold. She also earned Doubles Silver with Viktorija Golubic, after upsetting Tokyo favorites and the #2-seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara in the opening round. Belinda is now one of only five players since tennis’ return to the Olympic Games in 1988 to reach two Finals in the same Summer Games. She joins the likes of Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Andy Murray and Nicolas Massu. The top doubles tandem on tour, Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic earned Gold.
MENS DOUBLES. The Men’s Doubles draw also saw the top-seeds become Olympic Champions. Croatia’s Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic scored a thrilling championship tiebreak victory over Davis Cup teammates Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig. Both Silver and Gold mark Croatia’s best-ever tennis results at the Olympic Games. Elsewhere in the doubles draw – after arriving in Tokyo, Brazilian legend Bruno Soares had to withdraw due to appendicitis. While Bruno went into surgery, his teammate Marcelo Melo joined forces with Marcelo Demoliner — but they fell in Round-1 to the eventual Gold medalists. Brazil did medal, however. Underdogs Luisa Stefani and Laura Pigossi claimed Doubles Bronze behind improbable wins over two of the event’s top seeds.
MIXED DOUBLES. Finally, the Olympic Mixed Doubles championship included two teams from the same nation for the fourth time. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev defeated Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev in the last, and potentially most-riveting match of the tournament. 35-year-old Vesnina, who also celebrated her birthday on the day of the Gold Medal match, is now a 2-time medalist. In 2016, she captured Gold with partner Ekaterina Makarova. Pavlyuchenkova, Rublev and Karatsev all earned Olympic hardware for the first time.
* Tournament Format: In Singles, both women and men played the best of three tiebreak sets – including, for the first time, the Men’s Singles Gold Medal match. All Doubles matches were also the best of three sets. However the third set featured a match tiebreak where the first team to reach 10-points emerged the victor. Further, players and teams who fell in the Semifinals played an additional best of three sets match to determine the Bronze medalist.
Recaps of all 35 matches played on Center Court during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Tennis event