Tennis Prose



Olympic Tennis

Two of the most memorable matches I ever saw were at Olympic tennis.

The first that comes to mind was the 2004 doubles gold medal match in Athens. The German team of Rainer Schuettler and Nicolas Kiefer had four gold medal points vs. the Chilean duo of Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez at 6-2 in the fourth set tiebreaker. But somehow the magical Chileans fought back and saved those four gold medal points and won the tiebreaker and then the fifth set to win the first Olympic gold medal in the history of Chile.

The second match that comes to mind was the first round clash of titans in 2016 in Rio, which showcased Novak Djokovic vs Juan Martin Del Potro. It was an incredibly high level slugfest duel eventually won by the Argentine 76 76. It was such an emotional, hard fought battle that when it was over BOTH combatants were in tears on the court. It’s the only time I ever saw both winner and loser crying on court.

There have been other Olympic tennis masterpieces:

Serena Williams annihilated Maria Sharapova in the 2012 singles final 60 61.

Novak Djokovic destroyed Andy Roddick also in 2012 by the score of 62 61. Roddick later said Novak, “Djokovic beat me like a drum.”

The combination of playing tennis for your country at the Olympics for gold, silver or bronze medals inspires something different in professional tennis players and thus we see a different flavor, tension, and energy in the matches.

This year’s Olympics draws are certain to deliver more magical moments as the top seed Novak Djokovic continues his quest to win the Golden Slam and his first Olympic gold medal. Djokovic will face Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien in the first round and could meet Lorenzo Musetti or Davidovich Fokina in the third round, then Rublev in the quarters and Zverev in the semi.

Andy Murray will play Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round.

The doubles draw has some interesting teams. Andy Murray has elected to not play with his brother Jamie, opting for Joe Salisbury instead while Jamie is paired with Neal Skupski.

Tennys Sandgren will partner with Austin Krajicek but last week in Newport, Sandgren played doubles with Denis Kudla and Krajicek reached the finals playing with Vasek Pospisil (they lost to Sock and Blumberg). Who knows why they didn’t play together in Newport.

Djokovic will also try his hand at mixed doubles.

In the women’s draw, first seed Ash Barty will play Sarah Sorribes Tormo. Two seed Naomi Osaka takes on Shuai Zheng.

Other contenders are Garbine Murguruza vs. Veronika Kudermetova, Karolina Pliskova vs Alize Cornet, Jenn Brady vs Camila Giorgi, Anna Kontaveit vs Maria Sakkari, Barbora Krejcikova vs. Zarina Diyas.

Photo by Austin Nunn

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  • Scoop Malinowski · July 22, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Looking forward to Olympic tennis even though the empty stadium aspect could negatively effect the energy, electricity and intensity of the matches.

  • Sam · July 22, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    Neither the ridiculous “best of three” format nor the weather works in Djokovic’s favor here. Obviously he’s still a big favorite, but I think this tournament could be ripe for some upsets.

    By the way, is mixed doubles really mostly about flirting, as I’ve heard? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 22, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    Sam I saw photos of Djokovic smashing his racquet today, he’s ornery or not feeling at the level like he knows he needs to be at. Mixed doubles is serious business but also in the case of Bouchard and Kyrgios, it was a prelude to more intimate relations, so the insiders say.

  • Sam · July 23, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    Scoop, well, better that he be a little scared than overconfident, I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Bouchard had a relationship with Kyrgios? What was she thinking?? ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 23, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Sam, she has some Chrissie and Hingis qualities presumably. They call it Field player.

  • Sam · July 25, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    Well, Scoop, maybe that can add “Field Playing” to the next Olympics, so that Chrissie can bring home a medal for the U.S. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Winston Smith · July 25, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    Hi there Scoop
    Iโ€™m watching a bit of Olympic tennis. The court and ball conditions seem a bit off, balls are really kicking and also a bit random. Some bad bounces and inconsistent bounces. Heat may be a factor. Many upsets, players are uncomfortable with heat, courts and maybe the balls, struggling to get their string tension right.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 25, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    Sam she earned the gold already.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 25, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    Winston, we know some players are picky and like to complain about anything. Even the schedule being too much though nobody forces players by gunpoint to pay every tournament or exhibition offer they get. The conditions apply to every player in the draw. Just play the ball.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 26, 2021 at 8:59 am

    Djokovic cruising. Rublev losing to Nishikori was a surprise. Barty fell to Sorribes Tormo who used emotional adrenaline to slay the top seed. Osaka cruising, looks like it’s set up perfectly for her to be the star of the Olympic tennis. Tsitsipas vs Tiafoe in 2R. Meanwhile on the ATP World Tour, Carlos Alcaraz won his first ATP title 62 62 vs Gasquet in Umag. Cam Norrie won his first title in Mexico, besting Nakashima. And Casper Ruud beat Hugo Gaston in the other final. Four titles now for Ruud. Isner and Hans Hach won the Mexico doubles. Anderson vs Kyrgios first round in Atlanta, Anderson leads head to head 2-0.

  • Sam · July 27, 2021 at 4:28 am

    Osaka cruising

    For a bruising, maybe. ๐Ÿ˜†

    Oh, well–I’m sure she can blame it all on her “mental fragility.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 27, 2021 at 8:37 am

    Sam, did not see that coming. But now it does make sense. At the Olympics, Osaka did have an aura of embarrassment, even some shame over the big drama she created about her supposed mental health issues and her failed media blackout. It’s like she knows her phony caper attention grab was exposed and she hasn’t gotten over it yet. Hopefully she can think of some kind of way to put it all behind her and regain the adoration from the public she once earned and enjoyed. Some surprise names in the womens final eight. Could be another Monica Puig breakout?



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