Sunday, August 5, 2012

MTVP London 2012 Olympics Coverage: Men’s Tennis and the Wimbledon Rematch

While Jen is away at the national convention for our sorority, I am filling in with a post about the only sport I’ve even remotely been following during the Olympics; tennis.

I am a really odd sports fan. Ok, so I’m not really a sports fan at all. But 4 times a year, I do tune my TV to the sports channels for the tennis championships. I enjoy watching Roger Federer play and I usually only watch when he makes it to the finals of the tournaments. So I was thrilled when he won Wimbledon in July. Honestly, I’ve not been actively watching the Olympics this year. With the time difference, the good stuff is just on too early to actually watch. But I did settle in for the Men’s singles gold medal match this morning because Roger Federer made it through a rather impressive match where it went 19-17 in the 3rd set. I was actually quite excited for the match once I found out it would mean a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon finals against Andy Murray. Federer beat Murray at Wimbledon this year so it will be a great way for them to meet again on Centre Court. I’m also pretty sure the rematch mentality didn’t escape the crowd or the commentators. I think Henman Hill outside of Centre Court was even more packed today than when last these guys played each other. But enough rambling, let’s get to the match itself.

The first set started out pretty easy. Each player held on to serve for the first four games. Then Murray broke Federer and from there he just powered through to win the set 6-2. Part of me was proud of Andy for winning the first set. Given how meaningful it is to be playing in the gold medal match in your home country, there’s really a good chance he could take it and make up for the loss in July. But I am a Federer fangirl so I can’t fully give up on rooting for him. There were some pretty impressive vollies in the first set. I think the final game of the set went for a good 10-12 minutes with numerous break points. I think in this opening set we saw just how much younger Murray really is than Federer. Roger turns 31 on Wednesday and apparently being over 30 and still playing competitively is a big deal in tennis. I have to say I think some of his age may have been showing in this match. He really wasn’t moving as well as he normally does.

Things started getting interesting in the second set. Murray handily won the first two games and then we got the longest game of the match. Six or seven break chances but ultimately Murray hung on and won that game and the next two taking it fairly quickly to 5-0. One of the things the commentators noticed is how one-sided the crowd appeared. They were pretty much all rooting for Murray and I can understand why. He is playing a pretty solid game. Plus he’s had more time between matches since Roger made it to the gold medal in the doubles tournament whereas Murray lost in the first round of doubles (with his brother). Roger did manage to come back and win a game but Murray managed to pull out a 6-1 win and found himself up two sets to love. I have to say Roger really wasn’t playing very well. Though given how far behind he was in the second set, I wasn’t expecting him to win. Unlike the rest of the Olympics, the gold medal match for the men is a best 5 (so they need to win 3 sets). Right now it looks like Murray is poised to win in three straight sets. Something that’s never happened to Federer in his pro career. Federer needs to pull out all the stops and start making shots he normally doesn’t have a problem making if he’s got any chance of pulling out such a deep hole and winning his first singles gold medal. It would help if he didn’t keep dumping easy shots that he normally has no trouble making.

The third set was a little more even to begin with. Roger managed to hold serve a few times and at one point it looked like Murray would take it at 2-5 and serve for the match. But Roger held serve to bring it to 3-4. It was obvious Roger knew he had to dig deep if he was going to come back and win this thing. Unfortunately, though he did manage to get it to 4-5, Murray played a stellar closing game to take the gold medal in the third set 6-4.

I have to say Andy deserved to win the gold. It was a wonderful triumph for Great Britain and today at least, he was the superior player. He was on his game and he really dominated the court. I have a feeling Roger would have preferred to play with the roof over Centre Court closed as he did at Wimbledon last month. He’s able to better control his shots and serve without the wind and sun affecting his game. Still, it was a solid match and he gave Murray the moment. Roger left the court quietly while Andy and the crowd celebrated the win. I really do love to watch Roger play and I’m proud of his 17 grand slam titles, but winning isn’t everything. It’s not like tennis or the world will forget his name or his legacy anytime soon. Sure he may not be playing in the 2016 games so this may have been his final chance at Olympic singles gold, but he still has a lot of success to his name. Besides, Roger can go home knowing he has another chance at the top spot. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what happens with both players come the end of the month at the US Open.

I couldn’t end this post without showing a little patriotism. While the men’s singles tournament is heavily dominated by Europe, the US still has some sway on the women’s side of things. Serena Williams won the women’s singles gold medal match this weekend and she and her sister Venus took the gold in doubles. That really isn’t surprising since they tend to dominate when they play together but it was definitely a great win for the United States.

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