Luck runs out for British duo after magic week

 

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The Independent Online

The golden cloud had only a silver lining for Andy Murray here yesterday as the Olympic singles champion and his mixed doubles partner, Laura Robson, were beaten 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in the final by Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka. Having made a flying start, the Britons eventually succumbed to the power and experience of their opponents from Belarus. It was the fourth time in a row that Murray and Robson played a deciding champions' tie-break in the tournament and as the Scot said, their luck eventually ran out.

It was, nevertheless, a wonderful week for the Britons, who had only ever played mixed doubles together in the Hopman Cup exhibition event. Their performances vindicated the selection of 18-year-old Robson, who repeatedly rose to the occasion, while Murray's form belied the fact that he had not played a competitive mixed doubles match for more than six years.

In Mirnyi and Azarenka, the Britons were meeting their toughest opponents of the tournament. Mirnyi is the world No 1 in doubles and has vast experience, while Azarenka is the world No 1 in singles.

The British pair, apparently still on a high after Murray's victory over Roger Federer earlier in the afternoon, made a fine start, winning the first four games and taking the first set in just 30 minutes. Mirnyi in particular had made a slow start, but the 35-year-old, who has won 45 men's doubles titles, found his form in the second set, which the Belarusians won after Robson was broken in the fourth game.

Murray and Robson were never ahead in the deciding tie-break. When Robson served at 7-9 they saved two match points, thanks to a Murray interception and a bold service winner by the 2008 junior Wimbledon champion, but on the next point an overhead by Azarenka to Robson's feet gave the Belarusians victory.

“I was a bit gutted at the end,” Murray said. “The final came down to just a couple of points.” The Scot paid tribute to his partner. “For someone of her age – she is still young – I think she dealt with everything really, really well. She played very well again today.”

Robson said she was “a bit disappointed” not to win the gold medal, but added: “At the start of last week I just thought I was playing doubles. So to be a silver medallist is pretty cool.”

Mirnyi and Azarenka are the first Olympic mixed doubles champions since Dick Williams, a Titanic survivor, and Hazel Wightman, who established the now defunct Wightman Cup women's team event, won the title at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

This was the first occasion mixed doubles has been included in the Games since tennis returned to the Olympics in 1988.

Serena and Venus Williams claimed their third gold medal in women's doubles, beating the Czechs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 6-4, 6-4. Serena won the singles gold on Saturday with victory over Maria Sharapova to become the only woman in history to win a singles and doubles career "Golden Slam" of titles in all four major tournaments and the Olympics.

Bonus Britons 2 medals, 1 day

John Pius Boland, Athens, 11 Apr 1896: The only Briton to win two Olympic golds in one day. The Irish MP won the men's singles and doubles tennis.

Maurice Matthews, London, 11 July 1908: Won gold in the team small-bore rifle and silver in the moving target small-bore rifle later on the same day.

Ted Ranken, London, 10 July 1908: Silver in both the men's double-shot running deer and men's team single-shot running deer.

Josiah Ritchie, London, 11 July 1908: Gold in the men's singles tennis and silver in the men's doubles.

Leslie Law, left, Athens, 18 Aug 2004: Eventer won gold in the individual eventing and silver in team eventing.

Pippa Funnell, Athens, 18 Aug 2004: Won silver in the team eventing and bronze in the individual eventing.

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