A Swiss tennis player won gold in singles at the Olympics and it’s not Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka.
Belinda Bencic accomplished something on Saturday that her better-known fellow Swiss players never managed. And she’s not done yet.
The 12th-ranked Bencic beat Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 at the Tokyo Games for the first major title of her career and she’ll also contest the women’s doubles gold medal match on Sunday.
Bencic and Swiss partner Viktorija Golubic face the top-seeded Czech team of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.
“It’s unbelievable to have two medals, to have one gold and the other still to be decided,” Bencic said. “I will give all the energy that I have left in me.’’
Federer and Wawrinka won gold together in men’s doubles in 2008 then Federer lost the 2012 singles final to Andy Murray at Wimbledon.
Not even Martina Hingis, the Swiss player who Bencic’s career was inspired after, claimed an Olympic title. Her best result was silver in women’s doubles in 2016 with Timea Bacsinszky.
Melanie Molitor, Hingis’ mother, coached Bencic as a junior.
“I think I accomplished it for them,” Bencic said. “They did so much in their careers. I don’t think I will ever be able to accomplish what they did. So it’s for Martina and Roger.”
Marc Rosset was the only previous Swiss player to win gold in Olympic singles, in 1992. Neither Federer nor Wawrinka entered the Tokyo Games.
Bencic’s previous best result was reaching the semi-finals of the 2019 US Open.
Bencic took a medical timeout midway through the third set to have the big toe on her right foot treated for an apparent blister. But she came back out and didn’t appear troubled.
When a backhand return from Vondrousova sailed long on Bencic’s second match point, Bencic fell to the court on her back before the ball even landed. “I really don’t know how it worked out for me,” Bencic said. “I really had a lot of belief in myself.”
Earlier, Novak Djokovic lost his cool in his bronze medal match in the men’s singles
Djokovic went home empty-handed for the third successive Games. Djokovic withdrew from his mixed doubles contest with a shoulder injury shortly after being beaten 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 by Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in a match where he repeatedly smashed his racket and lost his temper.
The Serbian world No. 1’s exit came a day after he failed in his bid to complete the Golden Slam.
Djokovic had arrived in Tokyo aiming to become the first man to win all four majors and an Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year, after securing victories at the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon.
But that quest came to an end after he was beaten by German Alexander Zverev in Friday’s semi-final.
Djokovic’s withdrawal from Saturday’s mixed doubles, along with partner Nina Stojanovic, resulted in an automatic bronze for Australian pair Ash Barty and John Peers.
“I do have a regret for not winning a medal for my country and opportunities missed both in mixed doubles and singles. I just didn’t deliver yesterday and today,” Djokovic said, adding that he was still aiming to play at the 2024 Paris Games. “The level of tennis dropped also due to exhaustion, mentally and physically.”