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2012 SUMMER OLYMPICS: Murray drubs Federer for gold

Great Britain’s Andy Murray gives his country a gold medal in men’s singles Sunday on the grass tennis courts of the All England Club.

Great Britain’s Andy Murray gives his country a gold medal in men’s singles Sunday on the grass tennis courts of the All England Club.

Williams sisters win gold again in Olympic doubles

WIMBLEDON, England — Serena Williams relishes her role as copycat little sister. Even if it takes her 12 years.

Now she has that Olympic double — just like Venus.

The overpowering American pair won the doubles title at the Olympics on Sunday, with Serena adding to the singles gold she won on Centre Court at Wimbledon a day earlier.

“Crazy,” Serena said. “I’m always copying her. I forgot that she did it in Sydney and I do it here. We’re the same doubles team, we just split this to singles, so it’s cool.”

The sisters beat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 under the roof on a rainy afternoon at the All England Club. Venus — with her red, white and blue braids pulled back into a bun — closed the match on the very grass she has long loved with a backhand volley winner after the Czechs saved a pair of match points.

“We all talk about this, ‘We have so many medals,’ but to be able to add to that, it’s like an unbelievable feeling,” Venus said. “You know that in that count, there you are. It feels amazing.”

On Saturday, Serena beat Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 for the singles gold. She joined Steffi Graf as the only women to complete the Golden Slam — winning the Olympics and the four majors.

When the Americans in the crowd at Centre Court broke into a chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” as the players left the court, the sisters pumped their fists, turned to wave, then slapped a high-five. This was a command performance — the sisters didn’t drop a set through their five matches in London.

The medal ceremony had to wait some five hours after the outdoor bronze-medal match which was delayed by rain — and both sisters literally let their hair down for their moment on the podium. Venus sported bright red lipstick, and Serena put her arm around her sister’s waist and embraced her from the side.

Third-seeded Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova of Russia took the bronze by beating the top-seeded U.S. pair of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

With Bob and Mike Bryan taking the gold in men’s doubles Saturday, U.S. tennis made it three golds in two days.

“I feel great to be a part of this U.S. team this year,” Venus said.

Serena became tennis’ first double gold medalist at an Olympics since Venus won singles and doubles at the 2000 Sydney Games. The sisters also won the doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And with Sunday’s victory, each has a record four Olympic tennis gold medals.

While Serena was thrilled to win on her own Saturday, with Venus cheering from the family box, the doubles is what she most cared about coming to London. Especially considering all the emotional and physical struggles for Venus, who was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue.

“This is all I wanted,” said Venus, who had all of about two months to raise her ranking and qualify for the Olympics. “Boy, was that a battle. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I really feel proud of what happened here at the Olympics.”

It was one more triumph for a player who has won five of her seven Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon.

“Venus has been going through so much and she’s so strong and so she’s so amazing,” Serena said. “And to win this was my goal.”

The Williamses are the first tennis players to win Olympic gold indoors since the 1912 Stockholm Games, a match played in a pavilion on wood courts painted black.

Venus Williams joins Conchita Martinez of Spain as the only tennis players to win medals at three Olympics. Martinez’s medals all came in doubles — silver in Barcelona in 1992, bronze in Atlanta in 1996 and silver in Athens in 2004.

Gigi Fernandez and current U.S. coach Mary Joe Fernandez are the only others to win back-to-back Olympic tennis gold medals after they teamed for doubles titles in 1992 and 1996.

And the sisters insist they’re not done yet.

“We’re looking forward to Rio,” Serena said, “and trying to get some sort of medal there.”

WIMBLEDON, England — Andy Murray stood with the Union Jack draped over his shoulders, an Olympic gold medal around his neck, flanked by the man he had just beaten, Roger Federer, and basking in the roar of the Centre Court crowd.

No wonder the often dour Scotsman was grinning.

Murray won one for the home team Sunday, beating Federer 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in the tennis final at Wimbledon.

The victory marked a career breakthrough for Murray. He has lost all four of his Grand Slam finals, three against Federer, including Wimbledon a month ago.

“It has been the best week of my tennis career by a mile,” Murray said. “I’ve had a lot of tough losses. This is the best way to come back from the Wimbledon final. I’ll never forget it.”

For Federer, the drubbing marked another Olympic disappointment. Playing in the games for the fourth time, he sought a victory to complete a career Golden Slam but settled for silver — his first singles medal.

“Don’t feel too bad for me,” Federer said. “I felt like I won my silver, I didn’t lose it. So I feel really happy.”

Murray swept nine consecutive games to take control, breaking Federer’s serve four times in a row, his inspired play a reflection of raucous crowd support. He erased all nine break points he faced.

“He never looked back,” Federer said. “His credit for getting in the lead and using the crowd to come through. He did an unbelievable job.”

The match capped the most memorable Olympics for tennis since it returned to the games in 1988 after a 64-year absence. The event transformed staid Wimbledon into a more festive place.

Murray became the first British man to win the gold in singles since Josiah Ritchie in 1908. Those games took place at Wimbledon, too.

In the day’s first match on Centre Court, women’s singles champion Serena Williams teamed with sister Venus to win their third career doubles gold medal. They defeated Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 under the retractable roof.

Murray settled for a silver in mixed doubles with teammate Laura Robson. They lost to Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus 2-6, 6-3, 1-0 (8).

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina won the bronze in men’s singles, beating Novak Djokovic of Serbia 7-5, 6-4. Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova of Russia won the bronze in women’s doubles.

The roof opened shortly before the men’s final, and the beloved Federer — winner of seven Wimbledon titles — walked onto the sun-splashed grass to a standing ovation. Then Murray entered, and an ovation became a the roar.

At the far end of the All England Club, thousands of fans with grounds passes enjoyed a carnival atmosphere on the picnic hill known as Murray Mount while watching the match on a huge video screen.

Federer wore red and Murray blue in the most colorful tournament ever held at Wimbledon. Their tactics were also in sharp contrast.

Murray returned aggressively to repeatedly put Federer on the defensive when serving. Federer tried to come forward more than in any match this summer, but Murray answered with a succession of crisp passing shots for winners.

“Andy looked like he was never doubting himself,” Federer said. “He had a clear plan.”

The fans loved it, waving British flags of all sizes. “An-dy! An-dy” they chanted. They applauded when Federer won a point, but they boomed when Murray won one.

And the bounces seemed to go Murray’s way. One of his service breaks came when he hit winners that clipped the net cord on successive points. But then the net, after all, was British.

Altogether Federer dropped serve five times, surprising anywhere but especially on grass. He also lost 15 of 33 points when he went to the net, often watching groundstrokes by Murray whiz past out of reach.

“That’s the best part of his game,” Federer said. “If he doesn’t do those passing shots, he’s not going to win gold.”

The impassive Swiss showed little frustration as the match slipped away. Instead, it was Murray tossing his racket in the second set when he made a rare error.

Otherwise, Murray had little to get upset about. When he netted an easy forehand on break point early in the match, he laughed at his mistake.

“I felt so fresh,” he said. “I didn’t feel nervous really at all, apart from at the beginning of the match.”

He won with plenty of flair and a succession of spectacular shots. A lunging backhand pass in the corner had fans on their feet. And he erased a break point with an acrobatic leaping overhead, followed by an improbable reflex volley winner after Federer fired at him from point-blank range.

Murray fell behind 15-40 serving in the opening game but rallied to hold, and from 2-all he took charge, winning every game until 5-0 in the second set.

Federer struggled to hold but had many chances to break, including in the third game of the second set, a marathon that lasted for 20 points. He held six break points but Murray erased them all and won the game on an errant Federer backhand, one of many.

“If those points had gone a different way, it could have been a different match,” Murray said.

Federer, taxed by his 19-17 third-set semifinal win Friday, couldn’t summon a comeback. Murray hurried to the finish line, winning 20 of 21 points on his serve in the final set.

He reached match point with an ace, then hit another at 131 mph to seal the win. He briefly sank toward the turf, then rose to share a warm embrace with a smiling Federer.

“I was very happy for him,” Federer said. “It’s a long time coming for him, and he did great.”

Murray climbed into the player box to share hugs with friends and family. He then leaped back onto the court, and when he threw a final knockout punch, the crowd roared one more time.