Andy Murray beat Roger Federer to win the Olympic tennis gold medal, a month after the men’s Grand Slam record-holder reduced him to tears at the Wimbledon final.
The 25-year-old Briton defeated Switzerland’s Federer 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 on the All-England Club’s Centre Court to become the first Olympic men’s singles winner from Britain since 1908.
“That’s No. 1 for me, the biggest win of my life,” Murray said in a court-side televised interview, after winning with his fifth ace.
“I played a really good match, it was tough conditions, it was windy, but I did well,” said Murray, who’d climbed over the broadcast booth on Centre Court to reach his private box, where he embraced his family. He jumped high into the air after he got back to Centre Court for the medal ceremony as the crowd shouted his name.
Top-ranked Federer, the men’s doubles champion in Beijing four years ago, has yet to win the Olympic singles title in four attempts. Murray, who lost in the opening round in Beijing, is competing in his second Olympics.
The Swiss player took part in the longest Olympic tennis match in this year’s semifinals, beating Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro in 4 hours, 26 minutes two days ago. Del Potro today defeated Serbia’s Novak Djokovic for the bronze.
“It was tough tournament from start to finish,” Federer said in a televised interview. “Maybe I was emotionally drained. But I am happy I’ve got a medal.”
Murray produced 27 winners, three more than Federer. He made 17 unforced errors, while Federer made 31.
Serena and Venus Williams successfully defended their women’s doubles tennis crown. The American sisters, who also won the event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, beat Czech pair Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 6-4, 6-4.
The doubles gold medal comes almost a year after Venus Williams withdrew from the U.S. Open, announcing she was suffering from the energy-sapping Sjogren’s syndrome. They won the Wimbledon doubles title last month. Serena yesterday also won the singles gold medal, dropping only one game against Maria Sharapova of Russia.
“I would say this is more special than Wimbledon,” Venus told reporters. “Serena always said we wanted to win the gold together. I’m amazed she won the singles and our main goal was to win the doubles, so we got both and it’s amazing.”
Murray in Charge
Murray dictated play from the start, pushing Federer around Centre Court with his flatly struck double-handed backhand, which produced nine winners.
Murray took the first set as Federer struggled with the wind and twice got broken. The longest game of the match followed at 2-0 in the second set, with Murray eventually holding serve after fending off six break points. Federer held for 1-5, ending a run of nine straight games for his opponent. The Scot took the second set on another error by Federer as the crowd screamed “Andy, Andy.”
Murray remained in control in the third set against a sluggish Federer, breaking for 3-2 as the Swiss dumped a backhand into the net. Serving for the gold medal at 5-4, Murray produced a service winner and two aces from 15-15 to win the match. He sank to his knees, held his head in his hands and then pointed two fingers at the sky before shaking Federer’s hand at the net.
Murray last month lost in four sets to Federer, 30, in his first Wimbledon final. “Getting closer,” Murray said through tears in a televised court-side interview after losing his fourth major final.
Murray had also lost to the 17-time major champion in the finals of the 2008 U.S. Open and the 2010 Australian Open, while Djokovic beat him in Melbourne in 2011. Murray moved to the Olympic final after defeating the Serbian world No. 2 in straight sets.
“It’s definitely easier winning in the final then losing,” Murray said today.
Tennis, one of the original nine Olympic sports in Athens in 1896, was withdrawn after the 1924 Paris Games. It returned in Seoul in 1988, when German Steffi Graf became the only player to complete the “Golden Slam” by winning all four majors and the Olympic title in the same year.
Later today, Murray plays the mixed doubles final with 18-year-old Laura Robson against Belarussian pair Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka, the top-ranked player on the women’s tour.