No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic became the first Swiss player to win Olympic gold in women's tennis Saturday, as she defeated unseeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the gold medal match at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Bencic outlasted Vondrousova 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 in a three-set thriller, giving Switzerland its third all-time gold medal in Olympic tennis.
José Morgado @josemorgado
Belinda Bencic beats Marketa Vondrousova 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 and wins the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Olympics?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Olympics</a> in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tokyo2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tokyo2020</a>. What a moment for her! <a href="https://t.co/KerXQuXgwI">pic.twitter.com/KerXQuXgwI</a>
While Bencic is the first Swiss woman to win an Olympic gold medal in singles tennis, she joins men's players Marc Rosset in singles and the team of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in doubles as Swiss Olympic gold medalists.
With Vondrousova's silver, a Czech woman has now won a medal in singles at back-to-back Olympics, as Petra Kvitova won bronze in 2016.
Ukraine's Elina Svitolina won bronze earlier Saturday with a three-set win over Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.
The women's singles tournament in Tokyo had been unpredictable leading up to the final, so it came as little surprise that Bencic and Vondrousova played a match that was a roller-coaster ride for both players.
Bencic and Vondrousova traded breaks in a wild first set that lasted just shy of an hour in the Tokyo heat.
As noted by TennisNow, it was Bencic's dominance against Vondrousova's serve that allowed the Swiss player to take the opening set 7-5:
Vondrousova's back was against the wall, but just as she did so many times in previous rounds, the unheralded Czech came through in a high-pressure situation.
After struggling on serve in the first set, TennisNow pointed out that Vondrousova turned things around in that regard to take the second set 6-2:
Entering the final set, Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times noted how both players had been all over the map in terms of their performance:
That held true to form in the third, with Bencic and Vondrousova trading breaks again to get it to 3-3.
After Bencic held serve to go up 4-3, she controversially called in the trainer to re-tape her toe due to an apparent blister:
Bencic receives treatment from the physio after going 4-3 ahead in this deciding set 🩹<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tokyo2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tokyo2020</a> | <a href="https://t.co/iZB0Lr1Hta">https://t.co/iZB0Lr1Hta</a> <a href="https://t.co/c2eRyw2tk0">pic.twitter.com/c2eRyw2tk0</a>
It was fair to wonder if there was some gamesmanship at play given the timing of the timeout, and if there was, it worked to Bencic's advantage.
She immediately broke Vondrousova to go up 5-3 and put herself just a service hold away from Olympic gold.
Vondrousova went up 40-15 before getting taken to deuce. She then staved off a match point, but on Bencic's second opportunity to win the match, she delivered.
That win means it has already been a dream Olympics for Bencic, but she isn't done yet.
On Sunday, Bencic will team with Viktorija Golubic against the Czech pairing of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the women's doubles gold-medal match.
With a victory, Bencic would be the first woman to win gold in both singles and doubles at the same Olympics since American Serena Williams in 2012.