Tennis was a regular feature of the Olympic Games from 1896 to 1934. It was however then discontinued till 1988. In the Seoul Olympics of 1988 the sport again returned to the scene. Since then many players have grabbed the glory by winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the Olympic Games. In this article we take a look at the Gold Medalists in Olympics from the game of tennis. Here, we’ll read about eminent sportspersons who achieved men’s singles Olympic Gold in Tennis.
Stefan Edberg was the top seed in the tournament. He however finished with the Bronze medal. It was the third seeded Miloslav Mečíř of Slovakia who won the Gold medal in the tournament. Mečíř beat Eric Jelen of France and Jeremy Bates of Britain in the first and second round. He then defeated another Frenchman Guy Forget in the third round before showing exit doors to Michiel Schapers of Netherlands in the quarter-final.
Mecir did the unthinkable to defeating the top seed and tournament favorite Stefan Edberg in the semis. It was a match of high intensity which went down to 5 sets. Mecir came back from the 2 sets to 1 deficit and clinched the last two sets and thus booked a spot in the finals. In the tournament decider, the Slovak beat Tim Mayotte of the United States. He was thus on the highest pedestal in the 1988 Olympics men’s tennis tournament having won the Gold medal for his country. He thus won men’s singles Olympic Gold in Tennis.
7. Marc Rosset: 1992 Barcelona Olympics
The 1992 Olympics were held in Spain and thus the tennis was played on clay courts. Top seeds like Jim Courier, Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras tumbled in the early rounds. It was the 21 year old Swiss Marc Rosset who emerged as the surprise winner. Rosset who was not even seeded in the tournament stunned the then world number 1 Jim Courier in the third round. He defeated the American great in three straight sets.
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The Swiss then beat Emilio Sánchez of Spain in the quarter-finals. Another strong favorite and 4th seed Goran Ivanisevic was Rosset’s victim in the semi-finals. In the final, the young Swiss was up against home favorite Jordi Arrese of Spain. Rosset won the first two sets and looked set for a Gold medal. Backed by the home crowd Arrese would come back and win the next two sets thus drawing level terms. The fifth set was played with captivating intensity. The Swiss finally broke and defeated Arrese at 8-6 score. It was a deserving final for players as well as the crowd. He thus won men’s singles Olympic Gold in Tennis.
6. Andre Agassi: 1996 Atlanta Olympics
In the 1996 held in United States, home hero Andre Agassi was the top seed and hot favorite. The then world number 1 raced through the initial draw without losing a single set. Agassi beat Wayne Ferreira of South Africa in the quarter-final match. The match was tightly fought in three sets. However the American was the better player in the crunch moments.
Andre beat India’s Leander Paes in the semis and thus was now one match away from his golden moment. In the finals the American would emerge victorious against Sergi Bruguera of Spain in three straight sets. Agassi was now an Olympic Gold medalist. He also later completed the career Grand Slam and became among the very few players having achieved the Golden Slam in tennis. He thus won men’s singles Olympic Gold in Tennis. In 1996 Olympics India’s Leander Paes brought home the Bronze medal.
In the 2000 Olympic Games held in Australia, Russia’s Yevgeny Kafelnikov brought glory to his country by securing the Gold medal. The Russian breezed through the early rounds before he would encounter a formidable opponent and second seed Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil. Kuerten was the hot favorite but Kafelnikov showed great composure on the court taking the match in two close sets. The Russian would now advance to the semi-final without having lost a set so far.
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Kafelnikov then beat Arnaud Pasquale of France in straight sets in the semi-final. He thus set a date for the final showdown with Tommy Haas of Germany. The final was no doubt the match of the tournament. It oscillated to and fro for 5 sets. However, the Russian Kafelnikov would win the last set and thus take home the Gold medal. This is the saga of how he won men’s singles Olympic Gold in Tennis.
4. Nicolás Massú: 2004 Athens Olympics
In the 2004 Olympics held in Greece, Roger Federer was the top seed but faced a crashing defeat in the second round. The tenth seed Nicolás Massú emerged as the Gold medalist. The Chilean beat Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten in the nail biting first round match. He then advanced rapidly through the draw and even beat another favorite Carlos Moya of Spain in the straight set quarter-final. Massú would then have an easy semi-final outing with Taylor Dent of USA. The Chilean won the match conceding just seven games.
The final was however a match of epic proportions as Massú faced another American Mandy Fish. The tenth seed won the first set before going down in the next two. Fish was with a lead but Massú came back strongly to win the fourth and fifth set and thus take home the cherished Gold medal. He thus won men’s singles Olympic Gold in Tennis. It was a great event for Massu and he also won the Gold in doubles with compatriot Fernando González.
2008 was no doubt the year of Rafa Nadal. The Spaniard who won the French Open and Wimbledon that year and finished the season as world number 1 also won the Olympic Gold medal. The Spanish star was seeded second in the tournament behind Roger Federer. He got through the initial matches in a fairly comfortable manner beating the like of Lleyton Hewitt. Nadal met Jurgan Mulzer of Austria in the quarter-final. The Spaniard handed his opponent a straight set defeat along with a bagel in the first set.
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In the high intensity semi-final match Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic of Serbia in three sets. The final saw Rafa face Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. Nadal went past him in three straight sets. He won the tournament with just the loss of two sets. Incredible was the way he won men’s singles Olympic Gold in Tennis. Two years later, Nadal would complete the career Grand Slam and become one of the few players to have achieved the Golden Slam in tennis.
Rafael Nadal could not defend his Olympic Gold medal due to injury issues. The 2012 event was played on the All England tennis club that hosts Wimbledon. It was held one month after the Grass Slam had been played. Third seed Andy Murray who lost the Wimbledon finals that year emerged victorious in this prestigious event. Murray beat Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka in the first round and Spain’s Nicolas Almagro in the quarters.
A tight semi-final saw Murray come victorious against second seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia. The final was a rematch of the Wimbledon final played a month ago between Murray and Federer. However, the Brit would turn the tables this time around and defeated the Swiss great in three straight sets. It was a perfect revenge for Murray who brought tears to the host nation. He thus won men’s singles Olympic Gold in Tennis. The centre court of Wimbledon erupted and so did the whole of England.
Andy Murray became the first male tennis player in Open Era to defend his Olympic Gold medal. He again repeated his London heroics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Murray was seeded second in the tournament. The top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia lost in the first round to the eventual finalist Juan Martín del Potro.
The Brit faced dome formidable opponents like Fabio Fognini in the third round and Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals. However, there was no stopping for Murray who raced to the final and defeated another in-form player Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in four sets. Murray thus repeated his golden moment. He thus won his second men’s singles Olympic Gold in Tennis.
It now remains exciting to see who grabs the glory in 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are the obvious picks but Olympics have their own way of throwing surprises. Someone among the next gen could emerge from the shadows and take home the glory.