LONDON: Roger Federer staged a dramatic fightback to reach his first Olympic singles final with a record-breaking 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 19-17 victory over Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro.
Wimbledon champion Federer was on the brink of a shock defeat on Centre Court after dropping the first set, but the world number one finally subdued del Potro in the longest three-set men’s singles match in the Open Era. The 30-year-old’s great escape, in four hours and 26 minutes, means he is guaranteed at least a silver medal in the singles for the first time in his career.
He will face either Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray in Sunday’s final.
Sharapova sinks Kirilenko to reach final
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova swept into her first Olympic final as the Russian world number three defeated compatriot Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-3 in the semi-finals on Friday.
The 25-year-old will play Serena Williams or world number one Victoria Azarenka in today’s final as she tries to complete the Golden Slam of titles in all four majors and the Olympic singles.
Sharapova is competing in the Games for the first time and the French Open champion is now guaranteed at least a silver medal following her dominant display against the 14th seed in a clash clashing one hour and 29 minutes on Wimbledon’s Court One.
If Sharapova felt slighted by tournament organisers, who chose her match as the only one of the four men’s and women’s singles semi-finals to be scheduled on Court One, she didn’t show it.
This was a composed display from the moment she landed the first blow with a break to love in the sixth game of the first set.
Sharapova pressed home her advantage with another break to take the set in convincing fashion.
Kirilenko had a chance to get back in the match when she broke for a 3-2 lead in the second set, but Sharapova quickly regained control with a break in the next game. That seemed to shatter Kirilenko’s spirit. Sharapova went for the kill and let out a scream of joy as she broke for a 5-3 lead.
There was a brief wobble from Sharapova with the finish line in sight as she fell 0-30 down, but the four-time Grand Slam champion recovered her composure, unleashing one stunning cross-court winner, before sealing the win on her second match point.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.