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Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic makes history by clinching Olympics singles gold


Bencic secured a three sets win (Picture: Getty)

Switzerland may have boasted Martina Hingis, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka among their ranks over the past two decades but it’s Belinda Bencic who has surprisingly ended their 29-year wait for singles gold.

Bencic, the ninth seed, downed Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova 7-5 2-6 6-3 in a cagey final to win an unlikely gold and could potentially do the double on Sunday as she takes part in the women’s doubles final.

She is the first Swiss woman in history to become a gold medallist and the first from her country since Marc Rosset in 1992 to be Olympic champion.

Federer has claimed silver in singles, losing to Andy Murray at London 2012, and won doubles gold with Wawrinka but the top prize evaded him.

Remarkably, there has been a Swiss medallist at each of the last four Games with Federer and Wawrinka claiming gold in Beijing, Federer landing silver in London and Hingis and Timea Bascsinszky taking silver in Rio.



Swiss Olympic medallists since 2008

Beijing 2008: Gold (Federer and Wawrinka, men’s doubles)
London 2012: Silver (Federer, men’s singles)
Rio 2016: Silver (Hingis and Bascsinszky, women’s doubles)
Tokyo 2020: Gold & gold/silver (Bencic, women’s singles & doubles)

This was a final few would have predicted. Heading into the Olympics, Vondrousova, 22, had been horribly out of form, losing four of her last five matches.

In Tokyo, however, she rediscovered the form that saw her become a French Open finalist two years ago, boasting pre-tournament favourite Naomi Osaka among her list of victims.

The only set she had dropped on her way to the final was to 16th seed Kiki Bertens in the first round, with world No. 6 Elina Svitolina also dismissed in the semi-finals.

Bencic, a former junior No. 1, had endured a more scrappy route to the final, digging deep in three-set wins over French Open champion and runner-up Barbora Krejcikova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova before her semi-final scrap with Elena Rybakina.

Saturday’s late night final at Ariake Tennis Park was a similar affair, full of twists and turns, with the more traditional baseliner Bencic attempting to handle to guile and craft of her Czech opponent.

Bencic was gifted the first break of the match as Vondrousova sent a routine short forehand beyond the baseline.

The break was quickly returned, with Bencic dumping a forehand into the net to lose her service game to love.

Vondrousova reeled off her third game in a row, breaking Bencic after a marathon fifth game, but was pegged back by the Swiss after a ruthlessly deep return at her feet.

Vondrousova went down in three sets (Picture: Getty)

Bencic was looking the more agitated and saved two more break points to hold for 4-3 but she struck at the death to take a one-set lead.

Vondrousova responded well with a break to start the second set before securing a double break with a sublime half-volley drop-shot.

The set was soon wrapped up, courtesy of an unreturned serve out wide in the ad court, but Bencic had at least held to ensure she would serve first in the decider.

That didn’t help her get off to a good start as Vondrouva’s momentum carried her to an early break lead. However, the Swiss quickly wrestled it back.

The pressure was beginning to tell for Vondrousova, who double faulted as she was broken to love, with Bencic moving three games away from the title.

With nerves jangling at both ends of the court, Bencic fired wide on a backhand to hand the break back, but she held her nerve to save another break point to hold for 4-3. The physio was then called for the ninth seed, who required treatment on a blister on her right foot.

It worked in her favour as Bencic then broke to love and then served out the match, saving three more break points, to win Olympic gold.

Bencic will team up with fellow Swiss Viktorija Golubic against Czech opposition once more on Sunday, facing Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the women’s doubles final.

Svitolina was delighted to claim bronze (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Earlier in the bronze medal match, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina pulled off a remarkable comeback to down Elena Rybakina.

The fourth seed was down a set and a break but forced a decider and then recovered from 4-1 down in the final set to win 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4).

It was a tense finish, with Svitolina requiring seven match points in the final game to get over the line, but she secured bronze for her country.

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