5 August 2012

Murray Falls Narrowly Short Of Olympic Double On Centre Court

In the the midst of a GB gold storm at the London 2012 Olympics has been some excellent performances by the home nation's tennis players at SW19. Today was their D-Day as they knew that two gold medals were up from grabs on Centre Court; one for Andy Murray in the men's singles and one for Murray and teenager Laura Robson in the mixed doubles. 

There was plenty of scepticism surrounding Murray's chances against world number one Roger Federer going into their best of five sets final. The match was a repeat of July's Wimbledon final when the Swiss maestro beat the Brit in four sets to deny him a maiden Grand Slam title. Many felt that this could be Murray's time though as he had had time to learn from his defeat and had a partisan British crowd on his side. He started brilliantly as he broke Federer immediately and stormed into a one set lead, winning it 6-2. Any thoughts that the 17-time Grand Slam winner would then win the next three sets as he did four weeks before were quashed in some style as Murray breezed through to take the second set 6-1. 

The third set was a lot closer but Murray always seemed in control and one break was enough as he sealed a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win in one hour and 56 minutes to claim Team GB's 16th gold of London 2012. The Briton was emotional after winning the biggest title of his career saying: "I have had a lot of tough losses in my career and this is the best way to come back from the Wimbledon final, this is one of the biggest wins of my life." Murray looked in shock as he received his gold medal and said: "I didn't expect that at the start of the week, I thought I'd go deep into the tournament but I felt so fresh today. It's amazing." 

Less than an hour later and the world number four was back on Centre Court, this time with 18-year-old Robson in their mixed doubles final against Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. The British pair got off to an excellent start as they broke Mirnyi in the first game before sealing a double break to take an early 4-0 lead. They wrapped up the first set 6-2 in just 30 minutes, signalling a mexican wave from the delighted crowd. 

Despite their excellent start Murray and Robson knew that the Belarusians would come back strong as Mirnyi is ranked world number one in doubles while Azarenka is the women's singles world number one. The top seeds started much better in the second set holding serve twice before breaking Robson to take a 3-1 lead. The Brits could not find the elusive break of serve as their opponents grew in confidence and took the second set 6-3. That sent the gold medal match into a first-to-10 points champions tie-break to decide the winners.

The home favourites conceded a mini-break on the first point of the tie-break as they fell 3-0 down in just a couple of minutes. But they fought back and Robson found the line to bring the breaker back on serve. Robson then pulled a back-hand wide before double-faulting as the momentum started to swing in Mirnyi and Azarenka's favour. Murray immediately brought it back to 5-5 with a big fore-hand only for Robson to fire long to force her partner to serve at 6-5 down. Once again the Belarusians took the upper hand through a Mirnyi back-hand before Azarenka won both points on her serve to seal three gold-medal points. Robson battled hard to save two of them but Mirnyi found the winning strike to win the Olympic title in style.

Murray was pleased with his partner: "At the end of all the matches she played really well and we came so close." Robson was understandably upset: "They were the top seeds for a reason but it was still hard to lose today."

A great day at the All England Club ended in disappointment for Great Britain but overall a gold and a silver in tennis was a very good result. 

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