Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic won the women’s singles gold with a dramatic 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 victory over the unseeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, on Saturday. The no.9 seed was down a break in the deciding set but staged an impressive comeback to triumph in two hours and 30 minutes.
This is the European nation’s third tennis gold in history, with Marc Rosset having won the men’s singles top prize at Barcelona 1992 and Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka combining to win the doubles event at Beijing 2008.
Bencic can make it a memorable double if she wins the doubles gold too, the final of which she will play on Sunday alongside Viktorija Golubic, against the Czech pair of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.
Also on Saturday, Novak Djokovic’s Tokyo Olympics sojourn ended in misery, as he lost the bronze medal playoff to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6, 7-6(6), 3-6 and was then forced to withdraw from the mixed doubles bronze medal playoff with a shoulder injury.
As a result, Ash Barty and John Peers secured Australia’s first-ever mixed doubles medal, a bronze, at the Olympics.
The Serbian World no.1 had come into the competition in search of the elusive singles gold which would have aided in his attempt to complete the ‘golden’ Grand Slam, but will leave Tokyo empty handed.
“I do have a regret for not winning a medal for my country,” Djokovic told ITF. “’[But] I didn’t deliver and the level of tennis dropped, also due to exhaustion mentally and physically.”
“I don’t regret coming to the Olympics at all. I believe there is no coincidence in life. Everything happens for a reason. I’ve had some heart-breaking losses at the Olympic Games and some big tournaments in my career. I know that those losses have usually made me stronger in every aspect.
“I know that I will bounce back. I will try to keep going for the Paris Olympic Games. I will fight for my country to win medals,” added Djokovic, who will now turn his attention towards the last Slam of the year, the US Open, where he can complete the career Grand Slam.
Carreno Busta’s win was Spain’s first singles medal since Rafael Nadal’s gold at Beijing 2008. Spain has now won tennis medals at every Olympics except London 2012 since the sport returned to the Games in 1988.
The women’s singles bronze went to Ukrainian No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina, who claimed her nation's first-ever medal in tennis with a come-from-behind 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory over Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina.
There was a historic first in the women’s doubles bronze playoff too, with Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani securing Brazil’s first Olympic tennis medal. The duo saved four match points to beat Russians Elena Vesnina and Veronika Kudermetova 4-6, 6-4, [11-9].