[…] Before the match was the worst I’ve ever felt by far. After I finished practising, I ate in the locker room. The guys went up to get some food and I found myself alone for 20 minutes, feeling sick with nerves and worry. A lot of people said that winning the olympics would mean the pressure was off, but they had no idea. I was sitting there and feeling really ill. I got up and moved around and tried to think about other stuff, which is why it’s useful to have people around me. They might be talking aout something else and though I’m still going to be thinking about the match, at least there’s a distraction. The more I started thinking about how big the match was for me, the more nervous I became.
Novak doesn’t usually stay in the locker room and seems to go elsewhere, although I don’t know where. There as no one else there apart from a couple of the attendants, and the physiotherapy room was closed because there was nobody left to treat. There were no doubles players in there, no mixed teams and the only sound was coming from the TV. The guy on there was saying that no one had ever lost their first five Grand Slam finals. I knew that, of course, but to hear it in those circumstances just added to my nerves.
I had spoken to Ivan about nerves before and he said that he found it especially hard before the US Open final, because you have the whole day to kill beforehand. He would go in, warm up, leave, play a round of golf, come back, warm up a little again and then play. He did say that he felt nervous before each of his finals, which I suppose is reassuring. Some people say that pressure is a privilege and you ought to enjoy it, but when you haven’t won one of those events it doesn’t necessarily feel that way. Ultimately, you have to believe that it’ll be fine win or lose, but because of the way that Wimbledon finished, a loss in this final could have been very tough?
When Novak and I finally walked out onto court, the wind was blowing strongly into our faces. The Bedych match had been ridiculous because the wind was going every which way, but at least this time it was coming consistently from one direction. It’s nomally good to play with the wind, but that day it was so strong. The balls are pretty light and from the President’s Box it was hard to keep the ball in court.
It felt like no time until we were involved in a first set tiebreak. Maybe it was one of those classics from the sidelines, but to actually play in it was a lot more trying, especially because both of us found that it was so much harder to execute the shots we wanted to. Novak had the odd chance, but it would have been tough to lose after having so many set points. I needed to win to have a realistic shot at winning the match. In the end, I took the tie-break 12-10. We’d already been playing for more than an hour.
At two sets to love up, I was elated but I couldn’t let myself relax. By the beginning of the third set, the wind had settled completely, ut when the wind calmed, I had the sense that it calmed him too. By that stage, I was just one set away from victory and feeling that with the conditions the way they were, they’d been a big help. He had been getting frustated, so when the wind died and the air stilled, he started to hit out on his shots with more confidence. He was more comfortable and moving better and that made me nervous.
Those nerves and Novak’s confidence changed the way I had to play the match. He won two sets, and I recall shouting out that my legs felt like jelly because they wouldn’t move where I wanted them to. Once I got that out of my system, I was OK again.
At the end of the fourth set, I decided to take a toilet break. There’s a toilet right there at the side of the court and I knew that by taking a break, all the people would be thinking: ‘He’s blown this one.’
When I was walking off, I was pretty down. We had been playing for four hours but what matters most is how much you’ve run, because you’re not moving for the entirety of the time. The temperature had dropped and even though there were long points, I was making him do most of the running. At the end of the fourth, I think he was struggling physically more than I was.
In the bathroom, I looked at myself in the mirror and said: ‘I’m not going to lose this’ (well, something along those lines – I can’t remember the exact words). For me, it was about going back out ot gine 100 per cent and leave nothing behind. No regrets.
I came out and looked over at Ivan in the box. That fired me up because I wanted to win so badly, maybe more than him, if only because I’d never won before. I wasn’t going to let myself lose that match from that position, the way Wimbledon had gone.
I secured a break in the first game, when Novak missed a forehand after a net cord at 30-40. Then I made it a double break to put myself 3-0 up. He then got a break back. I haven’t watched much of the match on DVD, but I do remember that I had a great service game to love to lead 4-2 and then backed that up with a break to lead 5-2.
I had build it up so much in my head that it would be a big thing to serve for a Grand Slam, but when it came to it I didn’t feel that nervous. I had two breaks and when I looked up I could see the spectators were going nuts. I was feeding off all that energy. I was actually speaking to people in the crowd – I don’t know if it made much sense, it was probably just something to get me fired up. Even though I’d never been in that position before, even though I’d spent quite a bit of time wondering how it might feel, I felt oddly calm.
The score got to 40-love and I was about to win. I’ve been in that position loads of times and, 99 times out of 100, I hold serve. With the wind in my favour, I went to the wrong side to serve because I was concentrating so hard and I didn’t realize quite where I was. On the first Championship point, he threw up a lob, I got the rim of the racket to it and he hit a winner. On the next point, he smacked his return and I knew 100 per cent that it was out, but thought he’d challenge. I heard the call, saw the ball and my reaction was pure disbelief.
It took a while to understand what it meant to win the US Open. Maybe, after everything, it wasn’t as big as I had built it up to be, but I was so relieved to have finally done it, that I felt a mix of pure elation and disbelief. The one thing I would have liked to have done afterwards, in front of the TV cameras, was to thank everyone who has supported and worked with me, but time was too short. It was in the locker room that our celebrations began. There were hugs and kisses and I just remember there being lots of banter. Ivan was smiling more than I’d ever seen him smile and he told how poud he was of what I had done. He also said that I had shown great fighting spirit and played an excellent match, which, coming from him, as exactly what I wanted to hear. He didn’t want to join the rest of the team for dinner that night, but seemed to go home very happy.
We had a great night. I slept for about an hour, having read as many stories about the match as I could online before I finally drifted off, only to be woken by an early alarm call ready for a round of media appearances.
That night, I treated myself to an upgrade on the flight home. Everyone else my asleep and I just couldn’t make myself drop off. I had a glass of champagne, which I never do, and that became four. I actually mistook the soap in the bathroom for toothpaste because I was a bit giddy. If there were any bumps on the flight home, I certainly didn’t feel them.
The two main stadiums here are called Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong. One I love, the other I have never felt comfortable on. I just don’t like Armstrong and never have. Each time I’ve played on it I’ve struggled, and the 2012 championship was a case in point. I started strongly enough, beating Alex Bogomolov and Ivan Dodig in the first two rounds on Ashe and then had to play Feliciano Lopez of Spain over on Armstrong. And the jinx almost held because I couldn’t really settle properly. It can get breezy on the big courts; on Ashe it generally blows from the President’s Box end and you get used to that, but on Armstrong, where there’s no sense of being enclosed, the wind swirls and moves in different directions. You are most exposed to the sun playing day matches on Armstrong, too, and it can be so bright that tracking the ball gets really hard.
The grandstand in the Arthur Ashe Stadium gives more shelter from the wind and it’s built so that the sun moves across early in the day, providing plenty of shadow and shade. On Armstrong the sun is on the players for the whole day and it’s really intense. That made it difficult for me to settle, but the fact is that Lopez is not much fun to play. He had Alex Corretja, a former coach of mine, in his box.
As a result, I struggled physically, but somehow it was one of those matches that I found a way to win. I didn’t feel right at all, but somehow I got through. I used to be able to do that a lot of times in all the regular tournaments I played on tour and managed to get a really high degree of consistency throughout the year. However in the Slams that wasn’t necessarily the case. Now I’ve learned how to cope in situations when the pressure is on. I think about how my opponent might be feeling. I understand it all much better than I did before.
In the fourth round, I played well against a new big gun on the tour, Milos Raonic of Canada. We were playing on Ashe at night, which I really like. The conditions seem kinder in the evening and that was one of those really good nights. I read his serve well from early on and seemed to be able to anticipate everything he was going to do. That night I was quick and in command.
For the quarter-final against Marin Cilic of Croatia, the game was back on Armstrong and the pressure was really on. Cilic made sure that I felt it from the start, taking the first set and going on to take a 5-1 lead on the second.
When I got the first break back in that second set, we both sensed how important the next couple of games would be. And I started to feel that he was getting nervous. After that, I played on pure instinct. I got to balls I hadn’t been reaching before, chased everything down and got back into the match the hard way.
Perhaps if he hadn’t got nervous I wouldn’t have won, but there were nerves for me too. If you sense the opponent is tightening up and think, ‘I can get back in here, this is my chance’, the pressure increases on you. The guys who are behind aren’t the ones who tend to rush. They have all the time in the world, which is why it was surprising to see him hurry and make mistakes. It wasn’t as if I was blasting winners all over the court, so much as making as many balls as I could. Little by little, I started to reclaim the middle of the court, and he started to miss. That was it.
The semi-final against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic on Ashe was a freak show. There were high winds, which it’s all about who hits the ball best that day. It was about who could manoeuvre the ball around and come up with the right shots and the smartest shots. I feel like I have a bit more variety in my game than Tomas, so the conditions helped me and hindered him more than me. It was almost comical because of the wind conditions and I was laughing a little inside at how ridiculous the points were. All the same, it was semi-final of the US Open, and it was a great opportunity.
I aced Berdych when the ball bounced twice before it reached him. That has never happened the whole time I’ve been on the tour, but there was stuff taking place put there that had never happened in my entire life. If you had wanted to, you could easily have spun the ball from your opponent’s court back onto your own side because the breeze was so strong.
Playing a proper point became impossible and, in all the chaos, I managed to lose the first set. After that, I felt like I was cruising. I took the second and third sets easily and I had two break points in the fourth. Then Berdych started to serve and volley with much greater consistency, coming into the net more. After that, things changed quickly. I was 5-7 6-2 6-1 up and he had enough break points to put me 5-1 down in the fourth. That was the point when I started the fight back and ended up taking it to a tie-break.
I went 5-2 down in that and realized that I’d gone from a commanding position to win the match to one where it looked likely to go into a fifth. I’d had the momentum with me, and then I was on the verge of blowing it through my bad play and his consistency. The conditions were ridiculous, but that’s no excuse because it was the same for both of us. It was so, so difficult, but I was fought back and won, I was just pleased to get it over and done with.
My post-match conference took a surreal turn. I knew that both Sir Sean Connery and Sir Alex Ferguson had been at the match, but I wasn’t expecting to suddenly be confronted by both of them. I had spoken to Sean Connery on the phone before the game, but I’d never even met Alex Ferguson. That made it a weird situation and, to be honest, I didn’t know what to say to either of them. Both are quite intimidating presences in their own way. I’ve seen Sir Alex on TV so many times and it seems like he’s really intense. You get the feeling that if you say the wrong thing when he’s doing his job, he’s going to bite your head off.
But he came to the press conference with a massive smile on his face. He was really relaxed – I think he might have had a couple of drinks – so it was cool.
Relive some of the best moments in the US Open history and follow our coverage on Tennis Buzz:
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Fashion and gear:
A trip down memory lane:
Top 5 strange events at the US Open
US Open biggest upsets
1970 US Open: Margaret Court completes the Grand Slam
1971 US Open: Chris Evert becomes the “It Girl”
1972 US Open: Ilie Nastase defeats Arthur Ashe
1973 US Open: Margaret Court defeats Evonne Goolagong
1976 US Open: Connors defeats Borg
1978: the US Open moves to Flushing Meadows
1978 US Open: 4th consecutive US Open title for Chris Evert
1978 US Open: Jimmy Connors defeats Bjorn Borg
79 US Open 2nd round: McEnroe vs Nastase, chaos on court
1979 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Vitas Gerulaitis
1980 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg
1981 US Open: Tracy Austin defeats Martina Navratilova
1981 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg: Borg’s last Grand Slam match
1983 US Open: Career Grand Slam for Martina Navratilova
1984 US Open: John McEnroe last Grand Slam title
1990 US Open: Linda Ferrando upsets Monica Seles
1990 US Open: Alexander Volkov upsets Stefan Edberg
1990 US Open, the spitting incident
1991 US Open: Connors, 39 qualifies for the semifinals
1991 US Open: Seles and Capriati introduce power in womens tennis
1991: Monica Seles first US Open title
1991 US Open: playing to perfection, Edberg grabs first Open
1991 US Open: Edberg’s final dominance doesn’t diminish Courier
1992: Stefan Edberg defeats Pete Sampras
1992 US Open: Edberg takes Sampras, US Open, No.1 ranking
1993 US Open: Pete Sampras defeats Cédric Pioline
1994 US Open 4th round: Jaime Yzaga defeats Pete Sampras
1994: first US Open title for Andre Agassi
1995: Pete Sampras defeats Andre Agassi
1996 US Open: Class act Edberg making one last run at US Open
1996 US Open: Pete Sampras’ warrior moment
2001 US Open: Venus defeats sister Serena
2001 US Open QF: Andre Agassi – Pete Sampras
2001 US Open: Lleyton Hewitt defeats Pete Sampras
2002 US Open: last Grand Slam title for Pete Sampras
2004 US Open: First time to NYC for a French fan of Agassi
2005 US Open: Roger Federer defeats Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi gives the Open crowd one more thrill ride, August 31st, 2006
September 3rd 2006: Andre Agassi’s last match
Andy Murray’s road to the 2012 US Open final
2012 US Open: first Grand Slam title for Andy Murray
Photo credit: Michael C Dunne
Here’s the updated list of singles and doubles entries for the Rio Olympics. Mixed doubles entries will be confirmed on site during the Olympic Tennis Event.
Men’s singles: Juan Martin del Potro, Federico Delbonis, Juan Monaco, Guido Pella
Men’s doubles: Juan Martin del Potro/Maximo Gonzalez, Federico Delbonis/Guillermo Duran
Women’s singles: Sam Stosur, Daria Gavrilova
Women’s doubles: Daria Gavrilova/Sam Stosur, Anastasia Rodionova/Arina Rodionova
Men’s singles: John Millman, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jordan Thompson, Sam Groth
Men’s doubles: Chris Guccione/John Peers
Men’s doubles: Oliver Marach/Alexander Peya
Men’s singles: Darian King
Men’s doubles: Aliaksandr Bury/Max Mirnyi
Women’s singles: Yanina Wickmayer, Kirsten Flipkens
Women’s doubles: Kirsten Flipkens/Yanina Wickmayer
Men’s singles: David Goffin
Women’s singles: Mirza Basic
Men’s singles: Damir Dzumhur
Women’s singles: Teliana Pereira
Women’s doubles: Teliana Pereira, Paula Cristina Goncalves/Teliana Pereira
Men’s singles: Thomaz Bellucci, Rogerio Dutra Silva
Men’s doubles: Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares, Thomaz Bellucci/Andre Sa
Women’s singles: Tsvetana Pironkova
Men’s singles: Grigor Dimitrov
Women’s singles: Eugenie Bouchard
Women’s doubles: Eugenie Bouchard/Gabriela Dabrowski
Men’s singles: Vasek Pospisil
Men’s doubles: Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil
Milos Raonic was one of the poster boy for Canadian Olympic Committee campaign, but decided to withdraw from the Games (you know, Zika and all that…), that tells a lot about the man…
Men’s doubles: Julio Peralta/Hans Podlipnik-Castillo
Women’s singles: Peng Shuai, Zhang Shuai, Wang Qiang
Women’s doubles: Xu Yi-Fan/Zheng Saisai, Peng Shuai/Zhang Shuai
Women’s singles: Hsieh Su-Wei
Women’s doubles: Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan, Chuang Chia-Jung/Hiseh Su-Wei
Men’s singles: Lu Yen-Hsun
Women’s singles: Mariana Duque-Marino
Men’s doubles: Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah
Women’s singles: Ana Konjuh
Men’s singles: Marin Cilic, Borna Coric
Men’s doubles: Marin Cilic/Marin Draganja
Men’s singles: Marcos Baghdatis
Women’s singles: Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Barbora Strycova
Women’s doubles: Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka, Lucie Safarova/Barbora Strycova
Men’s singles: Lukas Rosol
Men’s doubles: Lukas Rosol/Radek Stepanek
Women’s singles: Caroline Wozniacki
The former world number one is Denmark’s flagbearer, but her medal chances are quite limited.
Men’s singles: Victor Estrella Burgos
Women’s singles: Kristina Mladenovic, Carolina Garcia, Alize Cornet
Women’s doubles: Carolina Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic
Men’s singles: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Benoit Paire
Men’s doubles: Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut, Gael Monfils/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Men’s singles: Nikoloz Basilashvili
Women’s singles: Angelique Kerber, Andrea Petkovic, Annika Beck, Laura Siegemund
Women’s doubles: Angelique Kerber/Andrea Petkovic, Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Laura Siegemund
Men’s singles: Philipp Kohlschreiber, Dustin Brown, Jan-Lennard Struff
Men’s doubles: Philipp Kohlschreiber/Jan-Lennard Struff
Tennis brought Germany quite a few medals in the past:
– Steffi Graf won the gold in Seoul in 1988 to complete the Golden Grand Slam, as well as the womens doubles bronze medal with Claudia Kohde-Kilsch. They were representing West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) back then.
– Graf won silver in Barcelona four years later, while Boris Becker and Michael Stich, who were not the best of friends, teamed up to win gold in mens doubles.
– the teams of Marc-Kevin Goellner/David Prinosil and Nicolas Kiefer/Rainer Schuettler took respectively bronze in Atlanta in 1996 and silver in Athens in 2004.
– in 2000 in Sydney, Tommy Haas made an unexpected run to the final to catch silver.
Australian Open champion and Wimbledon runner-up Angelique Kerber is Germany’s biggest tennis medal hope in Rio.
Women’s singles: Johanna Konta, Heather Watson
Women’s doubles: Johanna Konta/Heather Watson
Men’s singles: Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund
Men’s doubles: Andy Murray/Jamie Murray, Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot
The 2012 London Olympics proved a turning point in Andy Murray‘s career: one month after his devastating defeat to Federer in the Wimbledon final, he turned the tables and he beat the same opponent on the same court to win the gold medal in front of his home crowd. He went on to win his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in September and his first Wimbledon title a year later.
He will compete in the three events: singles, doubles (with his brother Jamie) and mixed doubles (with recent mixed doubles Wimbledon champion Heather Watson) and will be the flag bearer for Team GB.
Women’s singles: Timea Babos
Women’s doubles: Timea Babos/Reka-Luca Jani
Women’s doubles: Sania Mirza/Prarthana Thombare
Men’s doubles: Rohan Bopanna/Leander Paes
1.3 billion people – 1 medal: Leander Paes won the singles bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, the one and only medal for India in these games. Both his parents are former Olympians: his father won a bronze medal in field hockey in Munich in 1972, and his mother was a member of the Indian basketball team at the same games.
Men’s singles: Dudi Sela
Women’s singles: Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani, Karin Knapp
Women’s doubles: Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci
Men’s singles: Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi, Paolo Lorenzi, Thomas Fabbiano
Men’s doubles: Fabio Fognini/Andreas Seppi
Women’s singles: Misaki Doi, Nao Hibino
Women’s doubles: Misaki Doi/Eri Hozumi
Men’s singles: Kei Nishikori, Taro Daniel, Yuichi Sugita
Women’s singles: Yaroslava Shvedova
Women’s doubles: Yaroslava Shvedova/Galina Voskoboeva
Women’s singles: Jelena Ostapenko
Women’s singles: Stephanie Vogt
Men’s singles: Ricardas Berankis
Men’s singles: Gilles Muller
Men’s doubles: Santiago Gonzalez/Miguel Angel Reyes Varela
Women’s singles: Danka Kovinic
Women’s singles: Kiki Bertens
Men’s singles: Robin Haase
Men’s doubles: Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer
Men’s doubles: Marcus Daniell/Michael Venus
Women’s singles: Veronica Cepede Royg
Women’s singles: Agnieszka Radwanska, Magda Linette
Women’s doubles: Klaudia Jans-Ignacik/Paula Kania
Men’s singles: Jerzy Janowicz
Men’s doubles: Lukasz Kubot/Marcin Matkowski
Men’s singles: Joao Sousa, Gastao Elias
Women’s singles: Monica Puig
Women’s singles: Irina-Camelia Begu, Monica Niculescu
Women’s doubles: Irina-Camelia Begu/Monica Niculescu, Andreea Mitu/Raluca Olaru
Men’s doubles: Florin Mergea/Horia Tecau
Women’s singles: Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Daria Kasatkina, Ekaterina Makarova
Women’s doubles: Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, Daria Kasatkina/Svetlana Kuznetsova
Men’s singles: Andrey Kuznetsov, Evgeny Donskoy, Teymuraz Gabashvili
Women’s singles: Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic
Women’s doubles: Jelena Jankovic/Aleksandra Krunic
Men’s singles: Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki
Men’s doubles: Novak Djokovic/Nenad Zimonjic
Women’s singles: Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
Men’s singles: Andrej Martin
Men’s doubles: Andrej Martin/Igor Zelenay
Women’s singles: Polona Hercog
Women’s singles: Garbine Muguruza, Carla Suarez Navarro
Women’s doubles: Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez Navarro, Anabel Medina Garrigues/Arantxa Parra-Santonja
Men’s singles: Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Roberto Bautista Agut, Albert Ramos-Vinolas
Men’s doubles: Marc Lopez/Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut/David Ferrer
Since tennis returned to the Olympics in 1988, Spanish players have won medals at every Olympiad except London 2012. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won 4 medals in two Olympic Games (2 silver, 2 bronze) and Conchita Martinez was the first player to win medals at three Olympic Games (silver with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in Barcelona ’92, bronze with Arantxa in Atlanta ’96 and silver with Virginia Ruano Pascual in Athens 2004).
Gold medallist in Beijing in 2008, forced to pulled out of London 4 years ago, Rafael Nadal will make his comeback to competition after a 2 months injury break. Nadal will also compete in the men’s doubles competition with Marc Lopez with whom he won twice in Dubai and twice in Indian Wells, and in mixed doubles with Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza. He will be Spain’s flagbearer.
Women’s singles: Johanna Larsson
Despite Sweden’s rich tennis history (3 former number one and multiple top 10 players), 71th-ranked Johanna Larsson is the only tennis player representing Sweden in Rio. Stefan Edberg took the gold medal in Los Angeles at the tennis demonstration event and won singles and doubles (with Anders Jarryd) bronze medals in Seoul in 1988. Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johannson took the silver medal in the men’s doubles in Beijing.
Women’s singles: Timea Bacsinszky
Women’s doubles: Timea Bacsinszky/Martina Hingis
Men’s doubles: Sanchai Ratiwatana/Sonchat Ratiwatana
Women’s singles: Ons Jabeur
Men’s singles: Malek Jaziri
Women’s singles: Cagla Buyukakcay
Women’s singles: Elina Svitolina, Lesia Tsurenko
Women’s doubles: Olga Savchuk/Elina Svitolina, Lyudmyla Kichenok/Nadiia Kichenok
Men’s singles: Illya Marchenko
Men’s doubles: Illya Marchenko/Denys Molchanov
Men’s singles: Pablo Cuevas
Women’s singles: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens
Women’s doubles: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/CoCo Vandeweghe, Serena Williams/Venus Williams
Men’s singles: Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla, Brian Baker
Men’s doubles: Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan, Steve Johnson/Jack Sock
US female players won 4 of the 7 singles gold medals: Jennifer Capriati (Barcelona ’92), Lindsay Davenport (Atlanta ’96), Venus Williams (Sydney 2000), Serena Williams (London 2012). They also won 6 out of 7 womens doubles titles: Zina Garrison/Pam Shriver (Seoul ’88), Gigi Fernandez/Mary Joe Fernandez (Barcelona ’92, Atlanta ’96), Serena Williams/Venus Williams (Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008, London 2012). Serena is the heavy favorite to retain her titles in both singles and doubles.
On the men’s side, only Andre Agassi in 1996, took the mens singles gold, while Ken Flach/Robert Seguso (Seoul ’88) and Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (London 2012) won the doubles events.
Men’s singles: Denis Istomin
They have withdrawn: Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka, Dominika Cibulkova, Belinda Bencic, Francesca Schiavone, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet, Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios, Feliciano Lopez, Ernests Gulbis, Jiri Vesely.
I don’t remember much from the final game to be honest. Playing in front of a home crowd is not something that tennis players get to do often, let alone playing at a home Olympics. What I do remember though, as soon as I had hit the ace to win the match I felt this incredible sense of pride like I had never experienced before.
It had been a difficult couple of weeks after losing the Wimbledon final, and finally I felt like I could hold my head high again.
It was a different feeling to any tournament I had won before. After the disappointment I had suffered on Centre Court at Wimbledon against Roger Federer, it was an incredible feeling to be able to turn the tables and win through. After losing that Wimbledon final, I began to accept that I might never win on the big stage, which sounds pretty negative but it actually helped me mentally.
I remember playing in the Olympic tournament with a completely different mindset. Particularly before the final, I remember being relaxed. To this day it’s one of the best performances of my career and the pride of winning such a prestigious event in front of a home crowd is something I will never forget.
I remember being unbelievably excited. I should have been shattered after playing both the singles and the mixed doubles finals but I wasn’t. After my match I had a lot of media to do, but after that we all went back to the Athletes’ Village to celebrate. The mood, particularly around Team GB, was incredibly positive. It was the day after Super Saturday [when Great Britain won three athletics gold medals] and everyone was incredibly excited, there was a lot of celebrating going on, it was a lot of fun.
It’s still an incredibly special feeling. It’s different to the Grand Slams, we have opportunities every year to win those; the opportunity to win gold only comes around every four years, so I think among the players it’s a pretty special occasion.
It’s definitely up there as being one of, if not my favourite victory of my career. Wimbledon was incredible in 2013, but winning a gold at a home Olympics in front of one of the loudest crowds I’ve ever played in front of is something I will never do again and I’ll never forget it.
I remember most walking out onto Centre Court on the day of the final. The noise was deafening, I’ve walked out onto Centre Court a lot, and I have never experienced an atmosphere like that. The national pride that was around Great Britain during the Olympics was incredible and I think it’s something that a lot of people, not just the athletes, will remember for a long time.
Lining up next to my brother Jamie to play doubles for Great Britain will always stick with me. It’s always a huge honour to play for my country but there’s something special about representing your country alongside your brother; we had done it before in Beijing but being at Wimbledon in that atmosphere, it was just a bit special.
My medal didn’t really change much for me to be honest. I’ve lived in the public eye for a long time so although the media attention after I won the gold medal was intense, it eventually died down. What winning did give me though was a lot of confidence heading out to America for the US Open. I went on to win the final and capture my first Grand Slam title.
I hope people don’t view me differently because of it, I’d like to think that people will always just see me as the hard-working player I have always strived to be, whatever my results on the court.
I was awarded an OBE [Queen’s honour] in December 2012 after I had won both the gold and the US Open. I was fortunate enough to be presented with my OBE by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace. He’s a really nice person and he enjoys his sport, and plays a bit of tennis. It was a great day and it was an incredibly humbling experience to be recognised.
The Olympics is the perfect place for upsets, you see a lot of personal bests and a lot of records broken. My best advice to other players would be to give everything you can and see what happens on the day. Being at the start line or the opening match in an Olympic Games is different to anything you’ll ever experience, so make sure you give it your all and try and enjoy it.
Source: ITF Olympic book
From Andy Murray’s autobiography, Seventy-Seven
The atmosphere on finals day was nerve-tingling once again. So many were decked out in Union Jack colours, every spectator seemed to have a flag. I would imagine for Roger, the fact that the fans wee so obviously in my corner must have been a shock for him. He’s been on that court so many times and the British have great affection for him. The Wimbledon final was fairly split, but in the Olympics the support for me was amazing. When the crowd is behind you, it does make a huge difference – it makes you perform better, the opponent can feel intimidated, and when things are going well it is easier to carry that momentum through a match. Against Roger, this time, I didn’t let up at all.
The middle part of the match was, without doubt, the best I’d played in my career to that point. I’m not saying Roger played his best match, but the support of the crowd and the momentum from everyone else in every other sport doing so well seemed to carry me along. I just felt right the whole match.
I finished it with three big serves in a row. I think he only got a racket on a couple of them. I was serving gor the biggest title of my career and I served as well as I had ever done.
In the moments after a special match like this there are certain people you want to be with. Not everyone got to see what I was really like after Wimbledon, even though Kim and my mum and dad would have known how I was feeling. They had seen me lose so many of those matches before. That made me doubt myself – and maybe they doubted me as well – so it was great to be able to spend two or three seconds with them straight after I’d won. They knew all the work that went into the victory and how many tough losses there had been along the way. Out of all the things that happened to me in 2012, winning the gold medal was the proudest moment.
There had been four weeks to the day between one of the hardest moments of my life and one of the most fulfilling. Roger was involved in both of them and he made them special because he’s arguably the greatest of all time.
I was nervous before the final of the Olympics but I don’t remember feeling the same fear as before at Wimbledon. Maybe when I was playing on Centre Court before I felt I had to behave myself, because everyone was watching me and maybe I felt a bit self-conscious. People weren’t necessarily waiting for me to slip up but if I did, somebody would have something to say about it and everyone would have an opinion on what I had or hadn’t done. But after Wimbledon, people accepted my flaws – and I have loads of them. People seemed to see me for what I am and how I express myself, not judge me on what I should or shoukdn’t do.
I remember shaking my head when I was up there on the podium, ready to receive the medal. All of the guys in my team were there and the podiums were set up so that I was facing them. Seeing them all smiling, and everyone looking so proud, amde me feel wonderful. Yes, I was proud of myself, but when I saw everyone smiling and everyone singing the national anthem, I got a real sense of togetherness.
Maybe we don’t show enough of that in our country, and maybe the result is that sometimes we don’t get a sense that everyone can pull together for the same cause. When I saw Sir Chris Hoy holding the flag at the opening ceremony and he was completely blubbing the whole way around, I realised that you don’t get that in other competitions and that the London Olympics was really specials.
Check out the whole match here.