Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova defeated Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in three sets (4-6, 6-4, 6-1) for the women’s doubles bronze medal Sunday afternoon.
The Russians bounced back from a 6-4 opening set setback to the Americans to narrowly win a highly contested second set. In the third, it was pure Russian dominance.
Kirilenko, 25, and Petrova, 30, wore down the older American players. The longer the match dragged on, the better they seemed to look in comparison to their opponents.
They did it with a remarkable 39 winners and an emphatic efficiency of 92 percent on their second and 75 percent on their first serves.
Raymond, 38, and Huber, 35, gave it their all through two sets but didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to compete in the third set.
The bronze-medal win comes as no surprise for Kirilenko and Petrova. In the event semifinal, they contested the Williams sisters to the end of the final set, losing in two sets (5-7, 4-6). They put up a valiant fight but didn’t have enough to upset the eventual gold-medal winners.
They’ll gladly settle for bronze as a consolation. At least it’s something.
The deciding moment came in the fourth game of the third set. Huber was serving with her team up 30-love. After three straight points by the Russians, the Russians had a break point opportunity.
Kirlenko & Petrova have break in final set of#OlympicTennis bronze medal match vs Huber/Raymond - Huber lost serve, is struggling— ITF Olympic Tennis (@OlympicsTennis) August 5, 2012
Huber double faulted to give them the game.
This medal-round game was a fight for both teams, but ultimately it was the younger Kirilenko and Petrova who were able to hold on long enough and put this match away.
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