London 2012: Musings on Olympic Tennis (by LJ)


Before London 2012, and perhaps Beijing 2008, tennis at the Olympics was a blip on the radar. Although taking part as an original sport from 1896 to 1924, it didn’t make it’s modern comeback till Seoul in 1988. But compared to the slams, or even the masters, no one gave a flying rats ass what happened in the Olympics, until now (although seemingly Philipp Kohlschreiber still didn’t manage to get the memo)

Womens Singles Tennis at London 1908 games…

In my opinion the importance of tennis at London 2012 is an anomaly, because of these factors:

  1. It was held at the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon just a mere few weeks after the actual slam
  2. It was the British home olympics and the Team GB Juggernaut, 8 years in the making was rolling in confidence and inspiration.
  3. Olympics Singles Gold (or even a medal of any colour) is one of the very very few things which has still eluded Roger Federer (okay in terms of singles titles, probably the only one) and this was his best and possibly last chance to obtain one.
  4. Federer tore out the hearts of both Murray and the British public just 3 weeks before the Olympics in the Wimby Final.

The tournament itself cannot be separated from these factors and I dare say, tennis, although increasing it’s significance in the Olympics, will probably in our lifetimes never be as significant again.

Since 1988, here are the men who’ve won the single olympics Gold: Mecir, Rosset, Agassi, Kafelnikov, Massu, Nadal and now Murray. It’s a mixed bag really, and reflective of it’s significance as a tournament and it’s format.

If Grand Slams are a marathon, best of 5, 7 matches over 2 weeks, then the olympic competition, 6 matches, best of 3, over 1 week is a pure sprint. An absolute shootout. And for most top men’s players who’ve honed their entire careers to peak for the Grand Slam format, Olympics format is not a great comfort. And definitely not for Federer, who arguably is one of the best grand slam players of all time. But after 3 Olympics of failing to medal in singles, there was extra pressure, because this was possibly his best and last chance…at Wimbledon, on his own FREAKING LAWN!!!

Federer’s Performance

Fed had a good tournament actually, he barely made it past Falla (I never want to see that match up ever again on grass) and he admitted to been on a bit of an emotional all tourney. Benneteau was clearly injured, and there were tight spots against Isotimin, I didn’t watch the match with Isner but looking at Isner’s grass form he didn’t have the goods to match Fed anyway. So to Delpo

This was my match of the tournament. Del potro for all intents and purposed outplayed and outrallied Fed for most of the match. But somehow Fed’s serve found it’s Sampras-groove that day. And the longer the 3rd set went on, (even after been broken to love serving for the set) I felt that he had the mental goods to take it out. But sadly the match left him no mental goods to even contest with Murray in the final.

Fed won the Silver fair and square, but Murray won the gold. In the Final Fed was clearly 1 step slower in the corners and was so braindead, he couldn’t even make the shots, let alone chose which shot to take. And the less said about those Roddickesque approaches the better.

But do we need to worry about Fed’s form in this final? Personally I think not. The final like the tournament itself was played in the shadow of the factors I outlined above, and coupled with the massive semi Fed played, I didn’t expect a win. Although the way he played was dissappointing, it wasn’t that far off the level in his RG2012 semi TBH. Shit happens and sometimes it’s just not your day. BUT HEY…upside? YOU STILL GET SPARKLE!!!!

On the doubles side, I’m going to say this now, Federinka in Beijing 2008, was an absolute fluke, it was a product of those olympics, of Stan’s form and Federer’s willpower and determination to come back with something after the shit fest that was 2008 up until then. Having watched Federinka live, I don’t even know how they managed it, cause honestly, they’re a little shite.

Murray’s Performance

Well well well…Muzzface. The one thing which I will say here that, he should really smile more. It makes him a lot more personable. What a performance though. He was clearly the best player all tournament and bouyed by the TEAM GB juggernaut (3 golds the night before the final) he was a man on a mission. He clearly sensed Fed’s zombie shell in the final and did not let up at all. Which is perhaps testament to his newly Lendlfied mental strength. He wasn’t perfect at all times during the final but he didn’t let the foot off the pedal, which he usually does 2 sets to love against a difficult opponent.

The key here is to see whether he can take this win and implement it in grand slams. The pressure will be different and he’ll have to make it through the 1st week first, but he is getting closer.

Serena’s Performance

What a BAMF. Serena just absolutely steamrolled through singles and doubles with sis Vee. She lost a total of 17 games and dealt shambolic beatdowns to the current top 2 players. State of the WTA? No, more like when Serena is ON, she’s unbeatable, especially on grass. I won’t enter the GOAT debate because hello Steffi, but Serena is definitely up there, and I never doubted that. 4 Olympic golds now…take a bow gurl!

Other Notables:

  • How brilliant was the addition of Del Potro to the Men’s Singles podium? A thoroughly deserved Bronze medal and kudos for coming back after the heartbreaking loss to Fed.
  • As for Djoko, a dissappointing tournament and I’m interested to see whether his confidence will be affected going into the US hardcourt season.
  • Although I enjoyed the addition of mixed dubs, the super tiebreak really should be removed. Either have 3 sets or don’t have it at all. A Super tiebreak cheapens the results.


It’s interesting to see the rising importance of Tennis at the Olympics, one big reason is because the current crop of top players really care. But for me, Tennis at the Olympics is still a temporal anomaly. Perhaps no longer a blip on the Radar (it’s more of a small tidal wave now), I feel that in the end the it’s still all about who can make that 1 week sprint every 4 years. It takes a bit of luck, support, confidence and determination.

Andy Murray had that in spades and deserved to win at London 2012. The next thing is whether Murray can take this result and propel him to his first Slam. But Olympics results can only embelish a career, not define it.

As for Fed, he is proud of his Silver, I’m proud of his Silver and we all should be to. He came to the Olympics determined to get a singles medal. Gold would have been a bonus but I gather long after he’s retired he’ll look back and think his Silver was pretty damn special. We Fed fans are a greedy lot but a Wimby title, World No 1 and an Olympic Singles Silver is a pretty awesome result for an almost 31yr old gramps for the summer. If you offered me those riches at the start of the year I would have said HELLS YEAH!!!!

Onwards and upwards…Mixed Dubs for Rio 2016? We can only hope…

Haterz to the left….


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About LJ

Sup, I'm LJ, media producer/director, photographer and all round addict of various cultural pursuits...including food & tennis (the latter with an irrational attachment to a certain swiss potato nose genius).

8 responses to “London 2012: Musings on Olympic Tennis (by LJ)”

  1. freudoe says :

    Thanks for writing this, LJ, kept hoping they’s be something new here. Isner was difficult, I watched. Roger had to win the tie-breal or be OUT, and Isner’s serve had consolidated, so one feared a third set with not tie-break could go the wrong way. Anyway, that is hostory, SILVER is Roger’s forever, YAY. Loved his comments on the win , too:Roger Federer (SUI)

    On whether he’s happy to win a silver, or disappointed not to win a gold…

    FEDERER: No, no, I’m very happy. I am satisfied. I think this is as good as I could do during these championships. Andy was much better than I was today in many aspects of the game. For me, it’s been a great month. I won Wimbledon, became world No. 1 again, and I got silver. Don’t feel too bad for me. I am very, very proud honestly to have won a silver. Had a very emotional tournament from start to finish. I could have lost in the first round against Falla. Same thing obviously with del Potro. I felt like I won my silver, I didn’t lose it, so I feel very, very happy.

    On why the Olympics are emotional for him…

    FEDERER: Well, I mean, look, Olympics don’t come around every year, so this is obviously just a different feel to it. Crowds were different. Early on I could sense that right away when I came on court against Falla. I really badly wanted to come through in the early rounds to get into the tournament. Then you sort of install a certain way of acting and being during the Olympics. I think all of that made it, for me, very special. Every Olympics has been a life‑changer for me, to be quite honest, in Sydney, in Athens, and Beijing. Good or bad, I think I took away a lot of positives, from the Olympic spirit, from the way, I don’t know, you appreciate other sports, appreciate winning, losing. I love watching sports because of the reactions of the people at the very end. How do they take wins? How do they take losses? All these things. For me, it’s always been a dream to be part of the Olympic spirit. I didn’t want to just have it go on for one day or two days with the doubles. I tried everything I could in singles and doubles. I got a silver medal, so I’m very proud. It was emotional in many ways.

    • pban says :

      Don’t you just love his attitude….really he just continues to amaze me

      • LJ says :

        He’s presser was just fantastic, he certainly knew his level wasn’t enough to win gold and look Silver in this case was an awesome result. If a couple of points in the semi had been different, we’d be looking at Bronze or even worse no medal at all.

      • freudoe says :

        YES!!! Made me work on mine and I’ve been getting compliments from freind who usually have to put me on “suicide watch” for a few days 🙂 I was so thrilled with his semi-final win and that we didn’t have to seat out another match to know there would definitely BE-A-MEDAL!

  2. Tournament Junkie says :

    Good call on the match of the tournament! That played like a final of sorts. I too think this tennis at London2012 was very special and can’t quite imagine anything approaching that again unless Paris lands an Olympic bid and sends us to Roland Garros grounds …

  3. flo says :

    You can’t always get what you want…no exceptions.

  4. Matt Zemek says :


    A gold medal writeup on a silver medal performance and a gold medal sportsman.

    I didn’t see the Delpo match save for the second-set tiebreak, and I was only able to catch the first 11 games of the Murray match, but having just seen the YouTube videos of the end-of-match reactions from Friday and Sunday, Fed displayed abundant warmth and graciousness to his opponents. He totally gets the Olympic spirit, and that’s a big part of why silver is a terrific feat, part of a wonderful week for him.

    Kudos, LJ! I’m so deeply grateful that you wrote what you wrote! Thank you!

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