London 2012 – Day 4: Record Tennis

UPDATE:  Venus and Serena Williams have advanced to the doubles quarterfinals.

The Olympic tennis courts are heating up in London.  Yesterday, the American contenders went six for six, all of them advancing.  Today, however, that streak came to an end when USA’s Andy Roddick fell to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, but more on that later.  Tennis fans were in for a treat when France and Canada faced off.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) battled Milos Raonic (CAN) in what can only be best described as a historical, and epic, encounter.

The two tennis pros battled back and forth with Tsonga claiming the first set 6-3, Raonic claiming the second 6-3, but the real “meat and potatoes” of the match came in the Olympic record-setting third set.  The two exchanged serves and the lead for just under four hours with a final third set score of 25-23.  The encounter between Tsonga and Raonic became the longest Olympic tennis match, men’s or women’s, singles or doubles – breaking the previous record established in Athens 2004. Building to the finish, Tsonga became visibly frustrated, Raonic challenged officials, and at 18-18, the officials reset their three challenges.  What a match up – officiallly making this the second longest men’s single match of all time, just behind the Wimbledon 2010 Isner/Mahut encounter that ended in Isner’s 70-68 victory.

In other court news: Great Britain’s Andy Murray defeated Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 6-4 to advance to round three.  Of note, Murray returned a ball to Nieminen and sent Nieminen running into and tripping over the wall.  Ouch!  Russia’s Maria Sharapova defeated Britain’s Laura Robson after a tightly and tensely contested first set that ended in a tie-breaker that was, surprisingly tied.  Sharapova’s victory came at 7-6, 6-3 – the same score from the last time the two faced one another at Wimbledon last year – impressive.  Aussie tennis pro Lleyton Hewitt advanced in his match and will compete with Novak Djokovic next.  And American tennis players continued advancing as Venus Williams continued forward in singles competition and Huber/Raymond moved forward after a match up with Poland in doubles.

Finally, resulting from his loss to Novak Djokovic, the Olympic quest of Andy Roddick ended.  Djokovic defeated Roddick 6-2, 6-1, leaving John Isner as the final American tennis player.  Though Roddick has never medaled at the Olympics, London 2012 marks his second and likely final Olympic appearance.  Over the course of his career, Roddick, the face of American tennis for the last decade, spent thirteen weeks as the number one player in the world, was ranked in the top ten for nine consecutive years (November 2002 – August 2010), won 32 titles (to date), and has amassed over $20 million in prize money.  Beyond the Olympics, Roddick will likely continue competing, but one must wonder for how long.

Onward we shall travel into primetime as the day carries on.