Sunday, December 02, 2007

Top 10 Modern Olympic Tennis Moments

Before you know it (well, eight months or so, to be inexact), the tennis world will rotate on an Olympic axis once again when the Beijing Summer Games roll around in 2008.

It'll be the sixth straight Olympiad in which tennis will be a full medal sport, after having been reinstated as such in 1988 after being eliminated following a long Olympic run from 1896 to 1924, during which Suzanne Lenglen ('20) and Helen Wills ('24) were the most successful all-time greats who claimed Golds.

But what are some of the greatest moments in the modern Olympic tennis era? Well, here are a few to chew on:

1. 1988 Seoul Singles Gold - Steffi Graf (FRG) def. Gabriela Sabatini (ARG)

The most-difficult-to-get cog in the wheel that was Steffi's Golden Grand Slam season.
2. 2004 Athens Singles Gold - Justine Henin-H. (BEL) def. Amelie Mauresmo (FRA)
Smack dab in the middle of her bout with the cytomegalovirus that kept her out of action for the four months prior to Athens and nearly all of the rest of the season that followed, Henin put together maybe the most remarkable performance of her career. She survived a 5-1 3rd set deficit against Anastasia Myskina in the SF, then took out Mauresmo for the Gold. It was only later, once the full truth about her illness was known, that we found out just how deep La Petit Taureau had to dig to pull this one out.
3. 2004 Athens Singles Gold - Nicolas Massu (CHI) def. Mardy Fish (USA)

Talk about a stunner! Massu became Chile's first-ever Gold Medalist (and then the first two-timer when he won in doubles), as well as the first man to sweep both singles and doubles since Vincent Richards in 1924.
4t. 2000 Sydney Bronze - Arnaud di Pasquale (ITA) def. Roger Federer (SUI) 7-6/6-7/6-3
4t. 2004 Athens 2nd Rd - Tomas Berdych (CZE) def. Roger Federer (SUI) 4-6/7-5/7-5
quick! Name the Swiss men's player with the most Olympic tennis medals. Brrrrppppp! Wrong! The King has none, but Marc Rosset won the Gold in 1992.
5. 2004 Athens Doubles Gold - Ting Li/Tiantian Sun (CHN) def. Conchita Martinez/Virginia Ruano-Pascual (ESP)
Four years before Beijing, was this the prelude to greater things in '08, or just a tease that unearthed false hope that will not be fulfilled by the Chinese tennis federation?
6. 1992 Barcelona Singles Gold - Jennifer Capriati (USA) def. Steffi Graf (GER)

At 16, nine years before her career comeback garnered three slam crowns, Capriati was a Gold Medalist after defeating defending '88 champ Graf.
7. 1996 Atlanta Singles Gold - Andre Agassi (USA) def. Sergi Bruguera (ESP)

Agassi and wife Steffi Graf are the only players to have ever won all four slams, plus Olympic Gold. After this triumph, Agassi went on to win five of his eight career slam titles.
8t. 1996 Atlanta Singles Gold - Lindsay Davenport (USA) def. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (ESP) 7-6/6-2.
8t. 2000 Sydney Singles Gold - Venus Williams (USA) def. Elena Dementieva (RUS) 6-2/6-4

these two extended the USA Gold streak to three Olympiads. Davenport knocked off four Top 10 opponents, and Venus joined Helen Wills (1924) as the only woman to sweep the singles and doubles Gold at the same Olympics.
9. 1984 Los Angeles Demonstration Tournaments
four years before tennis became an official medal sport again, it was a demonstration, non-medal, sport in L.A.. The winners? A 15-year old Steffi Graf of West Germany, three years before her first slam victory (she'd go on to win 22), and 18-year old Swede Stefan Edberg, who'd win the first of his six career slams the next season in Australia.
10. 2000 Sydney SF - Elena Dementieva (RUS) def. Jelena Dokic (AUS)
During her previous Aussie incarnation, Dokic nearly pulled off a crowd-pleasing Medal run. But she lost in three sets to Dementieva, then dropped the Bronze Match to Monica Seles. One wonders how the last few years might have gone had she performed better here and basked in the Aussie Olympic glow even more than she did at the time. Alas, it was not meant to be (not in '00, at least). On a brighter note, Australia's Alicia Molik pulled off what Dokic couldn't four years later, winning the Bronze in Athens.
HM- 1988 Seoul Singles Gold - Miloslav Mecir (TCH) def. Tim Mayotte (USA)

The Big Cat, a Backspin favorite, flashed his sleepy-but-sleek game as he prowled the Korean court in the two-time slam finalist's career high point.

1988 Steffi Graf, West Germany
1992 Jennifer Capriati, USA
1996 Lindsay Davenport, USA
2000 Venus Williams, USA
2004 Justine Henin-Hardenne, Belgium

1988 Gabriela Sabatini, Argentina
1992 Steffi Graf, Germany
1996 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Spain
2000 Elena Dementieva, Russia
2004 Amelie Mauresmo, France

1988 Manuela Maleeva, Bulgaria & Zina Garrison, USA
1992 Arantxa Sanchze Vicario, Spain & Mary Joe Fernandez, USA
1996 Jana Novotna, Czech Republic
2000 Monica Seles, USA
2004 Alicia Molik, Australia

1988 Miloslav Mecir, Czechoslovakia
1992 Marc Rosset, Switzerland
1996 Andre Agassi, USA
2000 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Russia
2004 Nicolas Massu, Chile

1988 Tim Mayotte, USA
1992 Jordi Arrese, Spain
1996 Sergi Bruguera, Spain
2000 Tommy Haas, Germany
2004 Mardy Fish, USA

1988 Stefan Edberg, Sweden & Brad Gilbert, USA
1992 Goran Ivanisevic, Croatia & Andrei Cherkasov, Unified Team
1996 Leander Paes, India
2000 Arnaud di Pasquale, France
2004 Fernando Gonzalez, Chile

1988 Pam Shriver/Zina Garrison, USA
1992 Mary Joe Fernandez/Gigi Fernandez, USA
1996 Mary Joe Fernandez/Gigi Fernandez, USA
2000 Serena Williams/Venus Williams, USA
2004 Ting Li/Tiantian Sun, China

1988 Ken Flach/Robert Seguso, USA
1992 Boris Becker/Michael Stich, Germany
1996 Todd Woodbridge/Mark Woodforde, Australia
2000 Sebastien Lareau/Daniel Nestor, Canada
2004 Fernando Gonzalez/Nicolas Massu, Chile

4...Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, ESP (2 S, 2 B)
3...Mary Joe Fernandez, USA
3...Conchita Martinez, ESP
3...Jana Novotna, TCH/CZE
2...Gigi Fernandez, USA
2...Zina Garrison, USA
2...Steffi Graf, FRG/GER
2...Fernando Gonzalez, CHI
2...Goran Ivanisevic, CRO
2...Nicolas Massu, CHI
2...Miloslav Mecir, TCH
2...Helena Sukova, TCH/CZE
2...Venus Williams, USA
2...Todd Woodbridge, AUS
2...Mark Woodforde, AUS

All for now.

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