Photo: Paul ZimmerKamil Majchrzak (POL)
Beaming from ear to ear after winning the boys' singles final at the Youth Olympic Tennis Event, Poland's Kamil Majchrzak revealed he would keep his gold medal close by 'all the time' after defeating Brazil's Orlando Luz 64 75 in a high-quality encounter in Nanjing.
“I’m going to keep [the gold medal] very close to me all the time – probably every evening I will come down and say ‘wow, I did it’,” said Majchrzak after his triumph.
“It’s a gold medal for [Poland] - I’m very proud I could represent my country. I did my best, and I got the gold medal so probably they will be very proud of me!”
A rock-steady opening set display and a battling second from the 18-year-old Pole was enough to diffuse the power of Luz who, despite wowing the crowd with a mix of mighty groundstrokes punctuated by numerous delicate touches, succumbed to his nerves on several, ultimately crucial, occasions on serve.
The hard-hitting Brazilian made a sluggish start to the final and, with his opponent determined to press from the off, was broken in the very first game.
While Luz hits a strong, clean ball when his timing’s right, when it’s a touch off there is little margin for error and his usual crushing blows off both flanks are prone to the odd, ugly shank. That certainly seemed the case in the opening six games as the cool and steady Pole built a 4-2 first set lead.
Calls of ‘come on Orlando’ began to sprout from pockets of the crowd around the Tennis Academy of China’s impressive 1,200-capacity Court A, and the Brazilian responded to the encouragement, pulling up a 40-0 lead on serve before clinching an effortless game with a gloriously deft sliced-backhand drop shot.
Even so, Majchrzak refused to be overawed on his own serve and, despite playing in front of the likes of ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti and Russian Davis Cup captain Shamil Tarpischev, he held to love at 5-4 to clinch the set before turning in the direction of the dignitaries, and that of his support team, to punch his fist and issue a rallying cry of ‘come on’.
Luz started the second set in a similar vain to the first, handing over an immediate break in the opening game by drifting a routine slice into the tramlines. With Luz apparently succumbing to his nerves, Majchrzak just needed to keep holding serve and the gold was his.
Of course, it’s never as easy as that and this time the Brazilian broke right back. Luz pulled up a break point when the Pole threw in his first double fault of the match and on the next point immediately capitalised, dinking in another sweet drop shot that the sprawling Pole could only applaud from afar.
A lengthy fifth game, and the ensuing break, was still not to prove the decisive one in the second set as Luz came back with an immediate reply to Majchrzak’s visible disgust. The No. 7 seed ploughed his racket in to the court beneath him and vented his frustration loud enough for his countrymen back in Poland to hear.
If Luz was hoping the tantrum might unsettle his opponent; it did the opposite, but while Majchrzak immediately broke again, he promptly handed back his own serve.
The pattern continued until the 12th game, when Majchrzak finally held the service game that mattered – clinching the gold medal with a huge roar and a double fist pump when Luz fired a forehand long at 15-40.
“The match was amazing today. I was so tired. Kamil was tired too but he was playing better than me,” said Luz. “He was playing good in the better moments, so congratulations for him.
“I’m so happy with the silver medal," he added. "Yeh, I lost this match today but I was making a great week. I had no say today but that’s a great medal too.”
Meanwhile, there was delight for Japan in the boys' doubles as Ryotaro Matsumura and Jumpei Yamasaki won the bronze medal, defeating Majchrzak and fellow Pole Jan Zielinski 64 06 [10-4].