Olympics: Bencic becomes golden Swiss great

The medal moments keep on coming at Tokyo 2020 with an abundance of emotions, passion and pride on display.

Belinda Bencic / Gold Medal at Tokyo 2020©Kopatsch/Sato/Sidorjak
 - Alex Sharp

Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Martina Hingis are pretty elite players in the pantheon of tennis.

For Belinda Bencic they have always been on the scene as idols, mentors or team-mates. Now the Swiss star has emulated them on the Olympic stage.

Bencic in history

Federer won men’s doubles gold with Stan Wawrinka as Beijing 2008, Hingis collected silver alongside Timea Bacsinszky at Rio 2016. Neither Grand Slam great has won singles gold.

“Roger wrote to me today,” said world No.12 Bencic. “He said ‘this is the perfect day to reach my dreams.’”

“I was really happy about that, and he was absolutely right. He's incredible in that way. He really supports all the Swiss players, it's incredible the support I receive from Roger.

“They’ve done so much in their careers, I won’t be able to do what they did, but maybe I could help them to accomplish this. It’s for both Martina and Roger.”

On Saturday Bencic pulled clear 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 in a captivating finale against Marketa Vondrousova to take the gold step on the podium.

The 24-year-old’s milestone is Switzerland’s first in the women’s singles in Olympic history.

“If I end my career now without winning any additional matches, then I would still be happy,” claimed the elated Swiss. “What I have reached today no one can take away from me. I'm incredibly grateful for everyone who made this happen.”

Bencic’s Tokyo tale doesn’t end there. The world No.12 has the chance to become the fourth player to win gold medals in both singles and doubles since tennis officially returned to the Olympics in 1988, following Venus Williams (Sydney 2000), Nicolas Massu (Athens 2004) and Serena Williams (London 2012).

Viktorija Golubic and Bencic will duel with Roland-Garros champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the women's doubles gold medal match on Sunday.

“It's unbelievable to have two medals. One gold already, one still to be decided,” Bencic beamed. “I will fight with Viki and enjoy the moment, because really it is the memories that last forever.”

Svitolina strikes for podium spot

Earlier on Saturday No.4 seed Elina Svitolina captured Ukraine’s first ever tennis medal, roaring back from 1-4 down in the decider to prevail 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 facing Elena Rybakina.

“When you have a medal it’s something for all your life. For me, for Ukraine, it’s big,” Svitolina told reporters.

After losing semi-final it was extremely tough. I’m really proud with all the week here and to come back in such a big battle today. It’s extremely special for me this win today.”

Dream PCB-ronze

Pablo Carreno Busta defeated No.2 seed Daniil Medvedev to earn a medal match, then the Spaniard fell in straight sets to Karen Khachanov in the semi-finals. Talk about bouncing back.

Carreno Busta, despite surrendering match point in the second set, converted his sixth match point in a rollercoaster 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 encounter with world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

The 30-year-old fell to the baseline, realising his accomplishment as an Olympic medallist.

“Dreams come true. This is amazing, I’ve never felt something like this. It’s a bronze medal, but for me it’s like a gold,” stated the emotional world No.11.

“Playing against the best player in the world, losing the second set, continuing to fight all the time, to fight the pressure. This is something great.

“I haven’t won the tournament, but it’s the best title of my career. This is incredible, it’s for all the people who have believed in me, support me always when I win or lose.”

Djokovic looks to Paris 2024

It was a devastating couple of days for Djokovic having narrowly missed out on a medal.

The top seed saw his calendar Golden Slam pursuit unravel. However, the 20-time Grand Slam winner spoke with his archetypal champion’s mentality afterwards.

“I don’t regret coming to Olympics at all. I believe that there are no coincidences in life, everything happens for a reason. I had some heartbreaking losses at Olympics and big tournaments, and I know that those losses have usually made me stronger,” maintained the Serbian, a bronze medallist at Beijing 2008.

“I know that I will bounce back. I will try to keep going for Paris Olympic Games. I will fight for my country to win medals.”

Djokovic alluded to a few physical issues post-match and a left shoulder injury was the diagnosis for his withdrawal from the mixed doubles bronze medal clash.

Serbia’s exit meant Ashleigh Barty and John Peers won Australia’s first tennis medal since Athens 2004.

Brazilians back from the brink


Saving four match points, winning the final seven points in succession, Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani’s fairy-tale Tokyo 2020 culminated in a bronze medal triumph on Saturday.

The pairing only had their call up three weeks ago and have now claimed Brazil’s maiden Olympic tennis medals, overhauling ROC’s Elena Vesnina and Veronika Kudermetova 4-6, 6-4, 11-9.

“Words can’t express what this medal means,” said Pigossi.

“It’s a dream. I always wanted this medal, I always wanted this. I’m over the moon and speechless. Everything I’ve done, everything I’ve given up to get here, I always thought it was worth it, but now I have a medal to prove it. And we know that everyone in Brazil was behind us.”