The Olympic tennis tournament is considered the “fifth Slam” by tennis pros, for even though no prize money is involved, the prestige of winning Olympic gold virtually equals that of winning any of the four regular Grand Slams.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics tennis competition produced a memorable winner in the men’s singles, with world no. 1 Rafael Nadal of Spain claiming the gold over Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez in straight sets. Nadal entered the Olympics on a professional high, having just dislodged Roger Federer from the no. 1 spot in the ATP rankings, and in the process ending the Swiss’ record 237 weeks as the world’s top player. However, since Nadal’s no. 1 ranking would only take effect after the Olympics had already begun, it was Federer who was made the top seed, with Nadal no. 2. The third seed was Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, while fourth was Nikolay Davydenko of Russia.
The top three seeds played true to form over the first three rounds, while Davydenko was upset in the second round. In the quarterfinals Federer was ambushed by the United States’ James Blake, thus preventing a much-awaited Nadal-Federer gold medal showdown. Blake fell to 12th-seeded Gonzalez in the semifinals, while Nadal took out Djokovic in a match that went the full three sets (only the gold medal match was best-of-five sets).
In the finals, Nadal easily disposed of Gonzalez, becoming Spain’s first tennis gold medal winner, while Djokovic beat Blake in the bronze medal match. Federer didn’t go empty-handed, winning the gold in men’s doubles.
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