By Drazen Jorgic
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Andy Murray etched his name in history books by winning an unprecedented second singles title at the Rio Games and the Briton now has his sights on the ultimate prize: overhauling Novak Djokovic to become the world no. 1.
The shock winner of the women’s tournament, 22-year-old Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, holds equally lofty ambitions and she was not mincing her words in Rio: “I’m letting the world know that I’ve arrived.”
While Puig’s gutsy underdog displays captivated fans at Rio, Murray’s triumph over Argentina’s injury-prone Juan Martin del Potro owed much to brilliant consistency as the Wimbledon winner continued with the hottest streak of his life.
After ending Del Potro’s fairytale comeback from injury in the final, Murray showed he has the qualities to displace the 12-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic, who was left in tears after his first round defeat by del Potro.
“(Djokovic’s) consistency – I mean what I’ve been doing the last four months, he’s been doing for the whole year. So I need to find a way to keep that going,” Murray said after beating del Potro.
The return of 2009 U.S. Open winner del Potro, who had sunk to 141 in the world rankings due to wrist injuries, coincided with the re-emergence of Spain’s former singles champion Rafa Nadal after two months off with injury.
The Spaniard’s career has been rocked by injuries but he rolled back the years to win a mixed doubles gold despite admitting he was not 100 percent fit, suggesting he still poses a threat to the world’s best.
Puig’s final victory over Germany’s world number two Angelique Kerber and her emergence into the limelight increases the pool of players bidding to dethrone Serena Williams from the top of women’s tennis.
“This medal gives me a lot of confidence about what I can do,” Puig said.
The London Games singles champion Williams, 34, suffered a surprise third-round exit while her sister Venus, 36, was knocked out in the opening match.
The duo, who are three time Olympic doubles champions, also crashed out in the first round trying to defend their doubles crown. The sisters had won 14 women’s doubles grand slam titles, to go along with a combined tally of 29 major singles crowns.
Their loss most likely brought the curtain down on the greatest women’s tennis pairing in Olympics history.
(Reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Andrew Hay)