Tokyo Olympics: Bencic takes gold after battling past Vondrousova

By Sports Desk July 31, 2021

Belinda Bencic won the women's singles gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics after a bruising final against Marketa Vondrousova.

The ninth seed needed two and a half hours to overcome the 2019 French Open finalist 7-5 2-6 6-3 on Saturday.

Switzerland have now won five tennis medals in Olympics history, including three golds: Marc Rosset previously won the men's singles title in 1992, with Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka teaming up for the men's doubles in 2008.

There were four breaks of serve in the opening six games of the contest, Bencic eventually capitalising on a first set point.

Vondrousova began to find her rhythm in the second, raining down 14 winners to Bencic's four to level the match before breaking again at the start of the third.

Bencic responded by winning the next three games and picked up another crucial break to move 5-3 ahead, dropping to her knees in disbelief after taking the win on her second match point for her first title since 2019.

She could yet complete a remarkable double as she prepares for the women's doubles final on Sunday.

Svitolina rallies for historic bronze

Elena Svitolina had to dig deep to win an enthralling bronze medal match against Elena Rybakina.

The world number six lost a one-sided first set and faced a 4-1 deficit in the decider before prevailing 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

Svitolina has made something of a habit of doing things the hard way in Tokyo, with four of her six matches going to a decider and more than 13 hours spent on court.

By contrast, world number 20 Rybakina had not dropped a set before losing in the semi-finals and looked to be in control as she raced through the opener.

Svitolina responded to take a tight second set and once more found the answer in the third when it seemed victory was slipping away, eventually winning Ukraine's first ever tennis medal after a gruelling two hours and 24 minutes.

"To win such a big battle for the bronze medal definitely means the world to me," she said, as per the ITF website. "Everyone in Ukraine is watching – we don't win so many medals, you know – so for sure, it's very special for me and for Ukraine.

"I was upset in the beginning, but I got back, pulled myself together. This was a hell of a match for me, but fighting for a bronze medal meant a lot to me and I was focused on that."

 

Brilliant bronze for Brazil

There was another first in the women's doubles match as Brazil ended their long wait for a tennis medal thanks to Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani.

The pair saved four consecutive match points in the deciding tie-break as they beat Wimbledon finalists Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina 4-6 6-4 (11-9).

"Words can't express what this medal means," Pigossi said. "It's a dream. I always wanted this medal, I always wanted this. I'm over the moon and speechless.

"Everything I've done, everything I've given up to get here, I always thought it was worth it, but now I have a medal to prove it. And we know that everyone in Brazil was behind us."

Related items

  • Birthday boy Djokovic eases into Geneva Open quarter-final with Hanfmann triumph Birthday boy Djokovic eases into Geneva Open quarter-final with Hanfmann triumph

    Novak Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday by breezing into the Geneva Open quarter-finals after his comfortable straight-sets victory against Yannick Hanfmann.

    The world number one made light work of Hanfmann, who defeated Andy Murray the day before, after a 6-3 6-3 victory in Switzerland on Wednesday.

    Serbia's Djokovic saved nine of the 10 break points faced and won six straight games in the second set for a routine victory, responding emphatically after going 3-0 down.

    The winner of a last-16 meeting between Denis Shapovalov and Tallon Griekspoor awaits in the last eight for Djokovic, who triumphed with little trouble on his 37th birthday.

    Data Debrief: Age will not stop Djokovic

    Having watched rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal struggle for fitness in the latter stages of their career, Djokovic is showing no signs of slowing down before the French Open starts later this month.

    Djokovic will be aiming to become the second player in the Open Era to secure a Grand Slam Singles title after turning 37, along with Ken Rosewall at the Australian Open 1972.

  • Raducanu to feature in Nottingham after withdrawing from French Open Raducanu to feature in Nottingham after withdrawing from French Open

    Emma Raducanu will return to action at the Nottingham Open, as she steps up her return to action ahead of Wimbledon.

    The 21-year-old withdrew from the French Open after instead choosing to prepare for the grass-court season.

    On Wednesday, Raducanu was confirmed as a participant in Nottingham, with the tournament starting on June 8, three weeks prior to the start of Wimbledon.

    The former US Open champion has played at the event twice before, but lost to Harriet Dart in 2021 and withdrew due to injury from a match against Viktorija Golubic the following year.

  • 'Gladiator' Andy Murray could still prolong career, says Diego Schwartzman 'Gladiator' Andy Murray could still prolong career, says Diego Schwartzman

    Andy Murray is a "gladiator" and his love for tennis means he could yet prolong his career, according to former world number eight Diego Schwartzman.

    Murray has endured a difficult few years with injuries, undergoing surgery on both hips in 2018 and 2019.

    The three-time major champion has repeatedly said he is approaching the end of his career, revealing in February that he does not "plan on playing much past this summer".

    Murray is currently preparing for what will likely be his final appearance at the French Open, having sat out five of the last six tournaments at Roland-Garros.

    Schwartzman, however, feels Murray's love for the game could lead to him playing on for longer than anticipated.  

    "His life is tennis and I think he enjoys it. I think this is his legacy," Schwartzman – who won his only tour-level meeting with Murray in Antwerp in 2021 – told Stats Perform.

    "No matter what you do, your age or how you are doing, if you really love the sport and you love what you do, you can do it and you can push hard for as many years and as many tournaments as you want.

    "He's a fighter, a gladiator, and he's been doing the same since he was very young, and for us also, sharing tournaments and sharing moments, he has the passion out there. 

    "So, it's good to see these kinds of guys because tennis always needs guys who love the sport, and this is the one for sure."

    Murray would surely have added to his one US Open title and two Wimbledon crowns if not for the presence of the 'big three' of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The Scot has lost five grand slam finals to Djokovic and one to Federer. 

    Schwartzman says the importance of preparation is the main thing he learned from being on tour with those three greats, though he refused to say who was the greatest of all time. 

    "I know them very well, playing them on court, outside of the court," the Argentine added. "The good thing for me and many guys who share the tournaments with them is how differently they prepare the tournaments.

    "How differently they do things with food, with practice, with everything. It's crazy.

    "I think, okay, 'in one small way he's the best to do this side of the game', and then the other one is the best [at another aspect], so it's not my thing, who the GOAT is."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.