After a surprising loss to Tomas Berdych in Athens 2004, Roger Federer came to Beijing Olympics as one of the favorites to win the men’s singles gold medal, only to be denied by James Blake in the quarter-final. After that, Roger turned his focus to men’s doubles event, paired with his good friend Stan Wawrinka to forge a great team that went all the way to win the gold medal for Switzerland and bring the Olympic glory for themselves.
A day earlier, the Swiss duo had a busy schedule, defeating Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes in the quarters first before stunning Bob and Mike Bryan in the semi-final to reach the title match against Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson who prevailed against Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in four hours and 46 minutes!
After that thrilling victory over the Bryan brothers, Roger and Stan were pumped and motivated to make one final push and grab the gold on August 16, ousting the Swedes 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 to start a massive celebration after a service winner from Roger in the final point.
The Swiss pair earned the first break in game four and they closed the opener after an excellent hold from Roger in game nine for a 6-3. They scored one break in set number two as well for a 6-4, serving better better than the Swedes and making fewer number of errors.
Johansson and Aspelin finally broke their rivals at the beginning of the third set to gain some momentum, although it was a short-lived one as they lost serve in the very next game after three double faults! Still, the Swedes won the tie break 7-4 to prolong the encounter for at least one more set, hoping to make a complete comeback and lift the first title together.
Still, this was all they could do, with Wawrinka and Federer scoring a break in the fourth game of the fourth set to keep the advantage until the end and earn Olympic glory. This medal came in the perfect moment for Roger who was about to lose the no.
1 spot to Rafael Nadal two days later, steeping down from the ATP throne for the first time in four and a half years. “It’s not the first time this tournament or in my life I had to serve for a big match but it definitely changed a little bit in doubles where sometimes you don’t control that much yourself because guys usually go for huge returns,” said Federer.
“You know, when Stan held his serve easily to send up 5-2 up, I knew it’s basically all up to me if we don’t break. It’s basically the moment you dream of being in, even though there is so much pressure to it.
It’s exactly where you want to find yourself, facing the pressure and doing it. I had to go through quite a few second serves to win the game, which made it even harder. We played fantastic, it’s a dream come true, almost disbelief to some degree.
I grew up being a team player and always have been, I love team competition: basketball, soccer, it’s always something I’ve enjoyed doing. When I was in my first Davis Cup, I got my first Davis Cup nomination when I was maybe 16 and it was the greatest thing for me.
What I tried to do today is, when I play Davis Cup is that atmosphere in the team is important. It’s really key to having a good atmosphere in the team, that’s what we really have. That’s why also we had such a good understanding of each other today on the court and throughout the whole week, two weeks.
It’s something we’ve been trying to build up for many years, and now especially the last month, talking a lot about how we would like to play doubles. In the end, that it all comes together, it becomes such a sweet victory, you know, it’s obviously fantastic.
But, I mean, I’ve always enjoyed playing doubles. I haven’t played it that much lately because obviously the focus was singles and Grand Slams and No. 1 in the world. But it’s still something I enjoy doing, especially at the important stages.
It’s a great feeling, especially celebrating it together. It’s way different to celebrating it alone in the pool. I guess Michael Phelps knows that, too. When he wins alone in the pool, it’s not the same as when he wins it in relay.
And I think you could see it when he won, I think, his third medal, how happy he was. When he wins the relay, it’s just a different feeling.”