Top 25 Takeaways from the London Olympics

August 3, 2012
by Paula Vergara
We are officially into the medal rounds in tennis at the Olympic Games, which means the stakes just got a bit higher. Before we settle in to watch some of the best "popcorn matches" of the year, let's take a look back at a week of highlights and lowlights.

  1. No. 1 disappointment: The Olympic opening ceremony. With the exception of the flag bearers, most tennis players were absent from the ceremony due to the early match start times that were taking place the following morning. For some players, the sacrifice has paid off, but not for all.

  1. First Lady, Michelle Obama was using her star power this week at the Olympic Games to bring more attention to tennis. American tennis, that is. We know she's a tennis fan, and we know her husband is running for re-election for POTUS. The woman clearly knows how the promotion machine works.

  1. Juan Martin del Potro was flying way under-the-radar in these Olympic Games. That is, until he played against Roger Federer. 'Nuf said.

  1. No one can argue that Rafael Nadal’s absence from the Olympic Games is not only bad for his career, but bad for tennis. One can hope that his knees will hold out for the hard court season, but as we all know, the knees can take a much harder beating on hard courts than on grass.

  1. Altering the tennis record books is what Roger Federer has always done best. Despite having a shaky 1st round match vs. Falla, the 7-time Wimby champ has been on cruise control ever since. Federer is en route to a possible Career Golden Slam, and, at 30 (almost 31), he is showing no signs of slowing down.

  1. Serena Williams continues to be untouchable in both singles and doubles, proving once again, that she can be just as competitive at 30 as she was at 20, with or without her golden scrunchie. The one thing she puts ahead of tennis? Family. She says that if she had to choose, she’d rather have an Olympic gold medal in doubles with her sister, Venus, than a gold medal in singles. Awww.

  1. If you could sum up Andy Murray’s career in a bumper sticker, what would it say? “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” All of Great Britain (and Ivan Lendl) are hoping that "Muzzard" reaches his destination soon, with a gold medal around his neck.

  1. American hopeful Donald Young is having to climb the tennis ladder the slow, hard way. He's lost in the 1st round of the last 14 tournaments (including the Olympics).

  1. Venus Williams has been gearing up for the Olympic games for almost a year, and even went so far as to add patriotic colors to her hair just before the Games began. Despite losing in the 3rd round in singles, Venus and her sister Serena will be vying for gold in doubles. We may need to start referring to them as the "Golden Girls" of tennis.

  1. Best/worst Olympic opening ceremony outfits. Yep, I’m going there. No disrespect to the athletes, but Australia seemed to have a bad case of the blands. Their team’s outfits made them look like they were working at the event. Best outfits? Poland. Now THAT is a dress you can wear again.

  1. Germany's Julia Georges scored a big, early win by upsetting world No. 2 Aggie Radwanska in the 1st round. She managed to find her 5th gear, but was eventually stopped in the 3rd round by surprise semifinalist, Maria Kirilenko.

  1. Heading into his first Olympic Games, John Isner was coming off a big, repeat grass-court win in Newport, RI. He managed to keep America's hope alive for a medal in singles, until he was taken out by Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

  1. It was a tough 1st rd. loss at the Olympics for 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur, but it’s no secret that grass isn't her best surface. Since 2003, she has had six 1st rd. losses at Wimbledon, including the Olympics. Despite advancing to the QF in mixed doubles at the Olympics (with Rusty Hewitt), she's probably happy that the hard-court season is just around the corner.

  1. Technology and innovation can only take us so far, apparently. NBC's "Live" streaming isn't exactly live, and consequently, didn't exactly win over any new fans this past week. The solution? Avoid any social media outlets during the Olympics, or stay glued to your Twitter feed without watching any of the matches on NBC.

  1. How long did it take Roger Federer to beat Juan Martin del Potro in the biggest nail-biter of the Olympic Games? Just 4 hours, and 26 minutes...officially the longest tennis match in Olympic history. Third set score: 19-17. That's why he's No. 1.

  1. If the Olympics were giving out gold medals for the best wrist bands, Andy Murray would win.

  1. Caroline Wozniacki: New coach, same game. She was flattened by a steamrolling-Serena in the Olympic quarterfinals, on grass. Wozniacki said in her presser that playing on hard courts would have been a better surface for the Olympic games, because it would have "equaled it out for everyone".  Not sure if you'd get a Wimbledon champion to agree with that.

  1. It's possible that the best of 3 set matches might be better for tennis overall (+ a 5-set final), which is how they do it at the Olympics. At the very least, it could reduce the risk of injury.

  1. Roger Federer passed on his third opportunity to carry his home country's flag in the opening ceremony in order to let a lesser-sung Swiss (Stan Wawrinka) have a chance to sample the Olympic experience. Generous? Yes. It could have also been that Federer was playing first on Centre Court the next morning and didn’t want to stand for five hours.

  1. It's important to highlight the uneven distribution of Olympic ranking points: 750 for men (gold), 685 for women (gold), yet ranking points for silver are higher for women: 470 vs. 450 for men. And the reason is...?

  1. It appears that NBC ran out of options for sports commentators before the start of the Olympics. Let’s just say, Pat O’Brien is like a fish out of water covering tennis for NBC. He can’t pronounce player names, and I’m not so sure he can keep score of a match. Stick to covering entertainment news, Pat. The same can be said for Ryan Seacrest, but at least we can keep up with the Kardashians with Ryan on the job.

  1. Andy Roddick. The poor guy. He loves tennis, and loves to compete, but his body doesn’t love it so much anymore. He lost in the 2nd round in singles, and 1st round in doubles. Hopefully, when the time comes, he will be able to retire on his own terms.

  1. It’s not the kind of record you expect to see broken at the Olympics, but Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic will take it: The longest set in Olympic history. Unfortunately, someone had to lose, and by the smallest of margins. Because of the no-tiebreak rule for deciding sets, the three-hour long, 3rd set went in Tsonga’s favor, 25-23. The 66 games were the most ever played in a three-set Olympic match and the 48-game third set also set a record. In a word: EPIC.

  1. On again, off again…No, not Kim Kardashian's relationship with Kanye. It's the rain. While the roof over Centre Court at the Olympics prevented the weather from raining on the big parade, the outer courts were inevitably empty during rain delays, causing a US-Open-like backlog of matches.

  1. It’s the beginning of the end for Kim Clijsters, exiting her second to last pro tournament after losing to Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals. It’s been a privilege to watch Clijsters play over the years, and we can only hope that the up and comers will be able to fill the void (sniff).

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