Murray delivers Olympic gold again

By Jake Davies

  • Murray becomes the first Olympian to defend an Olympic singles tennis title.
  • Andy Murray [2] defeated Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5 4-6 6-2 7-5
  • Kei Nishikori won bronze in the Men’s singles by beating Rafael Nadal
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – History was made when Andy Murray became the first tennis player to defend an Olympic Title, beating Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro in a final lasting over four hours.

 

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Andy Murray [2] defeats Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5 4-6 6-2 7-5

It takes something spectacular and special to be able to call yourself an Olympic gold medalist, Murray can now say he is a two-time Olympic winner in the singles event. One of the greatest British athletes ever, produced an additional accolade, as he became the first tennis player to defend an Olympic singles title.

The gold medal match had everything. It was a true illustration of the pain, dedication and commitment it takes for these supreme competitors to go above and beyond in order to win that coveted gold medal. Both Murray and Del Potro battled for four hours and two minutes, but unfortunately, there could only be one winner in this titanic contest of superiority.

Murray’s game plan was clear to see from the early exchanges between the pair. He committed to breaking down the Del Potro backhand, while delivering killer groundstrokes to the forehand side when the court was open. It was a tactic that proved profitable for large periods of the match, as Murray only played to the Argentinian’s strength when the risk was not too great a risk to take.

In the back of Murray’s mind it was evident that he recognised Del Potro was far from his freshest. He had just played over three hours against Rafael Nadal in the semi-final and Murray used that to his advantage throughout the gold medal match.

Murray acknowledged that even when he played into Del Potro’s strength, which is his forehand, that he was still making the Argentinian chase down ball after ball. The match was poised nicely at a set apiece, but Murray started to gain a stranglehold on the match in Set 3.

In the third set, Murray seemed energised and alert to the questions that Del Potro was asking of the World No.2. Murray reeled off four games in a row and suddenly it looked like the two-time Wimbledon champion was rolling towards the Olympic title in comfortable fashion.

Del Potro started the fourth set in the same manner as he did the second by breaking in the first game of the set. The 2009 US Open champion was struggling immensely to keep up with the rigours and demands of an elite tennis match in a best of five sets setting, but the fight and never-say-die application from Del Potro was incredibly admirable.

Murray’s prematch strategy was working incredulously as Del Potro began to cramp after one of the longest rallies of the match. Del Potro even called for the trainer during the changeover in a bid to save the match that was evidently slipping away from him.

Murray reclaimed three break lead advantages before subsequently clinching victory as Del Potro found the net on the concluding point. Murray’s emotions began to grab hold of him as he realised just what he had accomplished by beating a valiant competitor in Juan Martin Del Potro.

The three-time major winner now will have a few days rest before he prepares for Cincinnati, where he is still undecided whether he will play. Murray’s first match in Cincinnati is scheduled for Wednesday.

 

Kei Nishikori [4] defeats Rafael Nadal [3]  6-2 6-7 6-3

Rafael Nadal’s promising return to a tennis court ended on a sour note as he faltered to Japan’s finest Kei Nishikori in three sets in the Bronze Medal match. It was a considerably domineering and overwhelming head-to-head where Nishikori had only beaten the Spaniard one time prior to this match.

Nishikori, one of tennis’ most marketable athletes, became the first Japanese tennis player to win a medal at the Olympics since Ichiya Kumagae medalled in the 1920 Games.

The Japanese star has built an unwanted reputation of coming up short against the very best since his breakthrough tournament at the 2014 US Open, so it will be a welcome achievement to finally get the better of one of the all time greats in such a crucial match at this stage of his career.

The outstanding accomplishments of Murray puts him as one of the main contenders for the US Open trophy. With Novak Djokovic’s absence from the Olympic podium, it is fair to say that many will be looking to put their name forward for the US Open prize in the coming weeks.

 

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