It has been said that the Russian sports federation became serious about developing tennis players when it regained medal status in 1988. They take the Olympics, and winning medals, very seriously. That dedication to tennis culminated in Russians sweeping gold, silver and bronze in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. The gold medalist from those games, Elena Dementieva, claimed the Olympic medal meant more to her than winning a traditional tennis Major. Even Roger Federer, the greatest of them all, wept like a baby after winning a gold in doubles…R-FED IN DOUBLES…in 2008. A great article about how tennis players feel about the Olympics is here: How Important Is An Olympic Gold Medal.
Another country very serious about Olympic medals is Germany. On Day 4 of the 2012 London Olympics, Russians Maria Sharapova, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova joined Germans Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki and Julia Goerges in a perfect day of winning tennis. Well, maybe not so perfect. Yes, they all delivered wins for their country but not every match was perfect. Particularly, British hopeful Laura Robson gave Maria Sharapova a little more than she expected, getting pushed in a first set that was 1 minute shy of an hour.
“I think she has a lot of potential, no doubt. I think consistency’s the biggest key, obviously. When you come out on a big stage, the whole crowd behind you, playing someone against whom you have nothing to lose, you play your best tennis. But it’s also a matter of going out and playing on Court 18 and performing at the same level week in, week out. She certainly improved from the last time I played her. You can see the little improvements she’s made. I’m sure she has a bright future ahead of her.” – Maria Sharapova
Sabine Lisicki and Nadia Petrova also were taken to 3 sets in their matches. In Sabine’s case, it’s understandable as she was facing the fast rising Yaroslava Shvedova. That was a potential upset special, so it’s good that Sabine made it through. Of course, it doesn’t get any easier as next up for Lisicki is Sharapova. Sabine knocked Masha out of Wimbledon and you can bet Sharapova will be psyched for that match.
Singles – Second Round
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. María José Martínez Sánchez (ESP) 61 62
(3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Laura Robson (GBR) 76(5) 63
(7) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Timea Babos (HUN) 61 61
(14) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) d. Heather Watson (GBR) 63 62
(15) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 46 63 75
(16) Nadia Petrova (RUS) d. Anna Tatishvili (GEO) 63 67(5) 62
Julia Goerges (GER) d. Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 63 75
Venus Williams (USA) d. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 61 63
NOTE: All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them (sorry, I wasn’t able to get Azarenka pics)