London 2012 Olympics: Champion can’t double up in the doubles as favourites win
WHEN you are playing in the final of a doubles tournament, especially one with Olympic medals at stake, you should ideally have some spare time beforehand.
What you do not want first, above all else, is a singles final against the greatest man ever to play tennis.
But yesterday Andy Murray had no choice in the matter. He beat Roger Federer, had a swift celebration and conducted a quick interview, then he was back out on to Centre Court, partnering Laura Robson against Max Mirnyi and Viktoria Azarenka of Belarus.
It was always going to be tough to take on fresh opponents, especially as they were both world No 1s –– Azarenka in singles, Mirnyi in doubles. But for the first set, it was Murray who looked the freshest of the four, or at least the one able to get up to speed most quickly. Perhaps the Federer match would prove to be the ideal warm-up. Or perhaps the Scot was simply playing on the adrenalin created by his inspired singles victory.
Whatever the reason, Murray and Robson ran away with the first set, racing into a 4-0 lead then clinching it 6-2. Mirnyi and Azarenka seemed strangely amenable, at this stage, to the Britons’ quest for a second tennis gold medal of the afternoon.
It was all looking good at that point for the British duo but, as their rankings indicate, the Belarussian duo are a talented pair, and they fought back strongly in the second set, taking it 6-3.
That took the contest into a championship tiebreak,– an extended version of the one which is familiar to spectators in singles matches, with the first to ten points, not to seven, being the winner, provided they are at least two points clear.
Robson got it off to a bad start, double-faulting on the first point, but made amends with a smart volley at the net on Azarenka’s serve to make it 3-3. However she compounded her felony with another double fault to go 5-3 down.
The tiebreak continued in similar fashion, with Great Britain occasionally levelling but more generally lagging behind. Robson, so confident when things are going in her favour, had picked the wrong time to exhibit her fragility and inexperience.
At least the winning point did not come from one of her mistakes. Instead, Mirnyi served, and when the return came back over the net, Azarenka was there to volley home for a 10-8 win.
There was no dream double for Murray, then, and no first gold for Robson either. But it was a valuable silver nonetheless, adding to Team GB’s remarkable weekend medal haul.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east