After going at length on the first winner of the men’s draw, the surprise exit of Tomas Berdych, and the fright Alejandro Falla caused Roger Federer again two years later, there are still, of course, many more events of the first day of Olympic tennis to talk about. However, I will stop on an epic doubles match, a doubles fright, a bad streak that goes on, and the black day of both the British and the Argentine teams.
An epic doubles match
The first men’s doubles match of the day was one we could not see, as it was not on a TV court. It ended up being very unfortunate, as it was one of the tightest doubles matches of the year, which ended up on the first doubles upset of the tournament.
In 2:40, David Ferrer and Feliciano López defeated the Polish top 10 team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, fourth seeds of the tournament, 7-6(7) 6-7(6) 8-6.
The match was so tight that the first, and only, break of serve of the encounter happened in the 13th game of the final set, when the Spaniards finally capitalised on their fourth chance of the match.
A match throughout which the winners only conceded one break opportunity to their rivals, and which ended 124 points to 119 in favour of Ferrer and López.
A huge upset on the Spanish team’s part, as we know that, for instance, David Ferrer is not known as a great doubles player, which he rarely plays. However, he is one of those players who are even more dangerous when playing for their country.
In the second round, they will face the Austrian team of Jürgen Melzer and Alexander Peya, victors of the Murray brothers in three tight sets, 5-7 7-6(6) 7-5.
A little fright for the Bryans
I will not hide it: Bob and Mike Bryan are my gold medal wish in the men’s doubles, as it is one of the rare big title missing to their impressive collection, and because they are my favourite doubles team (my favourite doubles player being, of course, my countryman Daniel Nestor).
Their first round match, against the Brazilians Andre Sa and Thomaz Bellucci, ended up in being a little fright for the top seeds.
In the first set tiebreak, they came back from a 3-5 deficit to clinch it 7-5, a feat they couldn’t repeat in the second set, although they saved a few set points.
They converted their second break point of the match in the decider and finally won 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 6-3.
Not a close call, but a little fright nonetheless for the twins, who will find out the identity of their rivals tomorrow.
The losing streak goes on for Donald Young
A few years ago, he was considered one of the brightest U.S. prospects, quite the next real deal. Many bad decisions on his and his entourage’s part, a fight with the USTA early last year, did everything to darken the hopes in this very talented player.
However, Donald Young seemed, at the same time last year, to finally want to live up to the expectations.
Since the beginning of the year, nonetheless, it is all the contrary that is happening, as Young has only won two matches since the season started, to the point where many were we to question his presence in London. Of course, by ranking and with Mardy Fish deciding to pass on the Olympics, the fourth spot on the U.S. singles squad was his. Still, in a 13-match losing streak, the question was normal.
Today was no different, as he was drawn to face World no 28 Andreas Seppi, who is, all the contrary of Young, living his best career moments. A lost battle to begin with, in all logic.
Logic prevailed, as Seppi inflicted Young a 14th consecutive first-round defeat, 6-4 6-4, thus bringing Young’s record for the season at 2-18.
At this rate, it’s more than fair to question his choice of going back, this year, to being coached by his parents. Maybe a proper coach, like he had last year, would help him find his range again? Right now, as the situation is, allow me to doubt that Donald Young will be a menace on Tour anytime soon.
Dark day for the host nation
Friday, as they were all scheduled to play on the first day of the competition, the British tennis team leader, Paul Hutchins, forbade the players to attend the Opening Ceremonies, in order for them to be rested for their matches.
Today, however, despite valiant fights from all of them, only one player came through, when Elena Baltacha defeated Agnes Szavay in straight sets, 6-3 6-3.
The seven other players scheduled all lost, whether in singles or in doubles. The Murray brothers fought and came really close to the win, but were finally edged by Melzer and Peya of Austria, a very tough loss, particularly for Jamie, who did not play his best in most key moments.
Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins were defeated by Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet, 7-5 6-3.
Anne Keothavong came close, but ended up losing to former no 1 Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4 3-6 2-6.
Finally, Laura Robson and Heather Watson were near to defeating Germans Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki, being up a set and a break. In the end, the German pair came out winning 1-6 6-4 6-3.
Watson, Robson, and Andy Murray will be in action Sunday in singles. We can only wish them a better fate.
Juan Martín del Potro lightens Argentina’s day
If Great Britain only had one win today, the same can be said for Argentina, who saw two of their four singles players and their men’s doubles team being defeated today.
David Nalbandian, who was playing his last Olympic Games, was the first one to fold, being defeated by no 7 seed Janko Tipsarevic, 6-3 6-4. A little like their match in Wimbledon, it was clear from the start that Nalbandian would have a hard time trying to win the match, as he was often taken off position by the powerfully aggressive game of the Serbian, who could rely on his serve in most tricky situations. A disappointing end for Nalbandian, who nevertheless fought and tried until the end, as he always does.
A few hours after, Nalbandian, this time with Eduardo Schwank, had the hard task of facing the second seeds, Frenchmen Michaël Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. They fought, but to no avail. Llodra and Tsonga broke at the tail end of each set to emerge victorious, 6-3 7-5.
Carlos Berlocq was very hopeful coming into these Olympiads, his first at 29 years old. The Chascomus native had a tough task facing Alex Bogomolov Jr, even though ranked several spots below him and not having a pretty good year so far. Bogomolov broke to start the match and even though Berlocq broke back mid-set, the Russian never gave up and broke as Berlocq was serving to force a first set tiebreak. Bogomolov sealed the match after a tight and breakless second set, reaching the second round with a 7-5 7-6(5) win, which left Berlocq a bit disappointed with his missed opportunities.
The solace came at the end of the day for the Argentines, as Juan Martín del Potro played an impeccable match to dispatch Croatian Ivan Dodig in straight sets, 6-4 6-1, one of Delpo’s best matches on grass in my memory. Not always serving his best, but very aggressive and taking advantage of an erratic opponent, the Tandil native took only 1:08 to seal his passage to the second round, where he’ll face Andreas Seppi.
Sunday, the last three Argentines will be in action, as World no 10 Juan Mónaco will take on the talented Belgian David Goffin, while Gisela Dulko and Paola Suárez will face Li Na and Zhang Shuai of China.