Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerRoger Federer (SUI)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: First up on Centre Court on Sunday is the women’s doubles final, where Serena Williams will return with sister Venus to see if they can add to their outstanding Olympic legacy. The reigning Olympic champions take on Czechs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in a rematch of the Wimbledon final as they bid to become the first two tennis players in history to win four Olympic gold medals.
The Williams sisters booked their place in the gold medal match by beating Russians Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova 64 75 in a delayed semifinal on Saturday evening. The match was due to be played on Friday but was held over because of bad light, and ended up being played after Serena had won gold in the women’s singles.
The Czechs have the advantage of an extra day’s rest, having advanced to the final on Friday when they upset Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond 61 76(2). But the Williams sisters dominate their head-to-head, having won all four of their previous meetings including here four weeks ago, when they prevailed 75 64.
The men’s gold medal match follows on Centre Court and pits seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer and home hope Andy Murray against each other in a mouth-watering clash. It’s also a repeat of their recent final at The All England Club and, like that match, will be a best-of-five-set encounter.
Fitness and recovery are likely to be a factor, and it’s Federer who will be tested in that department the most, following his marathon 4-hour-26-minute semifinal victory over Juan Martin del Potro on Friday, but motivation will also be key. The Swiss is hunting for an Olympic singles gold medal to top off his glittering career, while for Murray this represents the perfect opportunity to avenge his recent defeat by Federer, clinch gold in his own back yard, and ‘win Wimbledon’ with only a fraction of the pressure usually heaped on him at The Championships. Their head-to-head is locked at eight wins apiece.
Whatever the outcome of the men’s final, Murray will be back out on Centre Court later to partner Laura Robson in the first Olympic mixed doubles gold medal match to be played for 88 years. The British pair played two matches on Saturday to advance to the final, defeating Aussies Sam Stosur and Lleyton Hewitt 63 36 [10-8], then Germans Sabine Lisicki and Christopher Kas 46 76(2) [10-7]. Murray and Robson will face top seeds Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi after the Belarusian pair completed a 75 76(5) victory against India’s Sania Mirza and Leander Paes on Saturday morning after it was suspended overnight, then put out No. 3 seeds Lisa Raymond and Mike Bryan 36 64 [10-7] in the semis.
Fans on No. 1 Court will be treated to three bronze medal play-offs, the first between Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro as the men’s singles bronze is contested. The Serbian leads their series 4-1, his only loss to the Argentine being by retirement in their last meeting in the Davis Cup semifinals in 2011. This is the pair’s first meeting on grass though, and after del Potro’s performance against Federer on Friday it could be a very evenly-matched affair if the Argentine has enough left in the tank.
Following that, Huber and Raymond play Kirilenko and Petrova for the women’s doubles bronze medal, the U.S. duo having won their lone previous meeting in straight sets, before Raymond comes back out again with Mike Bryan to take on Lisicki and Kas for the mixed bronze medal.