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Russia, Spain and US become biggest winners at Olympic tennis tournament
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08:44, August 18, 2008

Russia, Spain and the U.S., three powers of the tennis world, have become the biggest winners at the Beijing Olympic Games tennis event which ended on Sunday.

In the last match on the Centre Court, Spaniard Rafael Nadal overcame Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in straight sets to win the men's singles gold medal.

The 22-year-old youngster, who is set to take over the world number one spot on Monday, was awarded an Olympic gold medal as a gift to celebrate his promotion, which he has been longing for quite a long time -- after spending on the No. 2 spot for more than 150 weeks.

Walking out of Swiss mogul Roger Federer's shadow, the Spaniard does not take much more pressure by the power shift.

"Different pressure? No, I don't think so. It doesn't change too much between two weeks ago and right now. The pressure is the same because I will be No. 1 tomorrow, but at the same time I want to continue to win the same titles when I was No. 2," said Nadal after winning the gold.

"I want to continue to be in the top form when I was No. 2. Probably I'm going to be No. 2 another time in a few months."

In the women's singles, fifth seed Elena Dementieva rallied to beat compatriot Dinara Safina 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in an all-Russian final.

Coming into the match with a 5-2 lead over Dementieva in career and never beaten in all three previous meetings this season, Safina could not hold on as far as she needed after the tough-minded Russian girl had played three grueling matches in 24 hours during the two previous days.

In an earlier match, Russian ninth seed Vera Zvonareva beat China's Li Na to take the bronze medal.

By doing this, Russia has become the first NOC to win all three medals in any discipline of an Olympic tennis event since Great Britain did so in the 1908 women's singles.

"Well, it just shows how strong is our woman's tennis. I mean, you can see how many girls are in the top 10. It's really nice that some of the girls can take the chances to get the medals. I think it's a big thing for the Russia team in the Olympics," said silver medalist Safina on Sunday.

Venus Williams also registered a record to her name by becoming the most successful female tennis players at the Olympics on three golds.

Having won the Wimbledon doubles event last month, Venus and her younger sister Serena were barely tested before beating the Spanish pair of Anabel Medina Garrigues/Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-2, 6-0 in the women's doubles final in one hour or so.

The talented player has claimed the singles and doubles titles in Sydney 2000.

"Yeah, Sydney was fantastic, doing it for the first time, here it's also very exciting. We feel like we've contributed to our country in a huge way. That's really what it's all about," she said in the mixed zone.

The American sisters also became the second women's doubles team to win two gold medals in this event following compatriots Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez (1992 and 1996).

American brothers Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan added a bronze medal for the United States in the men's doubles event.

The top honor of this event finally went to Federer and his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, both being ousted before the semifinals in the most coveted men's singles.

The gold came especially as a great compensation for Federer, who had aimed to claim the gold in singles and will lose the No. 1 ranking on Monday. But the Swiss was doing just fine with the doubles gold, saying that a gold is a gold no matter where it comes from.

"It is like a fantastic dream comes true, I feel really happy to win the gold medal. I have tried for several times (to get a medal), and I came really close to the medal in Sydney where I finished fourth," said the Swiss after winning the gold.

"Since then I can't stop thinking that If I am the best player in the world, I should do the same in the Olympics, and then finally I made it, it is really special also because it is for Switzerland, you know, our country can not get so many medals at one Olympics, maybe one or two, but this time I got a gold medal, it is for my country, I really feel different, as it is for my country, it is different from the Grand Sam where I did it for just myself."

Zheng Jie and Yan Zi notched up a bronze in the women's doubles, the only medal for the host China. It is far from being good compared with the gold medal won by Li Ting/Sun Tiantian in Athens four years ago, but the result plus Li's singles semifinals run proved that the Chinese girls, who have been working hard during the past four years, deserve more spotlight than that in the Athens Games.

"I am happy with what they did," said Jiang Hongwei, head coach of the Chinese national team, "but they could have done better."

"Even they lost in the semifinals, they still made great improvement in the past fours years, and it takes time to groom a new sport in China."


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1 China 35 13 13 61
2 USA 19 21 25 65
3 Great Britain 11 6 8 25
4 Germany 9 6 6 21
5 Australia 8 10 11 29
6 South Korea 8 9 5 22
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