Tokyo 2020: Zverev soars to Olympics glory

Alexander Zverev hailed the “biggest tournament you can win in any sport” on the final day of Olympics action from the Ariake Tennis Park.

Alexander Zverev / Gold medal Tokyo 2020©Julien Crosnier / KMSP
 - Alex Sharp

Alexander Zverev has persistently stated he’s thrown personal ambitions out the window in Tokyo, that his gold medal pursuit was for his country. Now Germany can celebrate a first ever men’s singles gold medal.

Zverev joins golden Graf

What a landmark 48 hours for the No. 4 seed. On Friday, Zverev battled back from a set and a break down to demolish Novak Djokovic’s calendar Golden Slam challenge, preserving Steffi Graf’s accolade as the only player ever to achieve the feat.

Now, Zverev has matched his compatriot Graf’s Olympic glory from Seoul 1988, swatting aside Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-1 in the gold medal match.

“It’s incredible, this is the biggest tournament you can win in any sport,” insisted the world No.5. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, what some of the other tennis players say.

“I can’t believe it, I’m an Olympic gold medallist. This is not something you can dream about because it’s so far away.”

Zverev put in a near faultless display, making his giant strides towards gold look easy.

Khachanov became increasingly frustrated to find to his game off radar, in stark contrast, Zverev utilised his major stage experience from a Grand Slam final, four ATP Masters trophies, to his 2018 ATP Finals triumph to rise to the occasion.

Again, this wasn’t a personal accomplishment, but one for camp Zverev and his nation’s medal tally.

“This tournament is not about yourself. I didn’t walk on court for one second for me. I walked on court for everyone at home, in the (athlete’s) village, the whole country of Germany. I never gave up and I never lost that spirit,” continued the 24-year-old.

“It’s for everybody back at home, my father, my brother, for my mother, my whole family, everyone who has supported me… My nephew, my daughter, for everyone back home.”

Czechs prove their prowess

Top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova justified their billing to stand top of the women’s doubles podium.

The Czechs won their nation’s maiden tennis gold medals with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over singles champion Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic.

“it’s just very special, it’s once in four years, it’s very different because you’re representing your country and everyone back home is watching you,” said Krejcikova.

“I think after a tough 10 days I think we deserve it, we’ve been fighting every day. I’m just very happy and happy for my partner too.”

Krejcikova and Siniakova, first teaming up by chance in juniors at Roland-Garros 2013, have since won three Grand Slams together and the 2018 Billie Jean King Cup.

As well as their doubles triumph at Roland-Garros earlier this summer, Krejcikova also won her first major singles title on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

“Goosebumps,” stated the 25-year-old. “I 100 per cent didn’t expect this season to be like this. It’s been pretty amazing. If there were Olympics last year, we wouldn’t have been here most likely. Because I wouldn’t be playing singles for sure and we had Barbora Strycova who got pregnant. Maybe there wouldn’t have been a place for us.

“I’m just really proud of this week, how we have supported each other in the tough moments. All year we’ve had many ups and downs. It’s here, it’s happened, we’re really proud and grateful to have the opportunity to be here.”

Gold for Pavlyuchenkova and Rublev

Tokyo 2020 has been a trip to remember for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova & Andrey Rublev.

The ROC duo prevailed against their compatriots Elena Vesnina & Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-7(5), 13-11 to bring the curtain down on tennis at Tokyo 2020.