Rio 2016 – Day 2 Tennis
We are staying in Barra da Tijuca and purposely picked an apartment close to the new BRT station, Jardim Oceanico. And today for our first day of Olympic action we made our way a couple of minutes around the corner to the station so new that the paint was wet, and the whole journey was easy. 20 minutes most on a brand spanking new bus that floated past traffic in an express lane to get us to Barra’s Parque Olimpico, home to nine different venues including the Tennis Centre, built brand new for the Olympics with an impressive centre court and 15 outside courts, which I would hazard a guess we’re temporary structures.
Barra Olympic Park was previously a Formula One race track and was home to the Brazilian Grand Prix. It was demolished in 2012 to make way for one of the key Rio 2016 centres and will, hopefully, leave the largest sporting legacy to the country once the Olympics has packed it’s rings and moved the circus on.
The Olympic Arena (gymnastics) and Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre (diving, synchronized swimming and water polo) were built for the Rio 2007 Pan American Games. The Tennis Centre is one of seven new stadiums built alongside the snazzy Aquatics Stadium (swimming) and Rio Olympic Velodrome (track cycling). Also new are the imaginatively named Olympic Hall 1 (basketball), Olympic Hall 2 (Olympic, wrestling and boccia), Olympic Hall 3 (taekwondo, fencing) and Olympic Hall 4 (handball). Barra Olympic Park will also be a major hosting point for the Paralympics.
So, the tennis then. We had Centre Court tickets, highish up but with a great view and first we watched Rafa Nadal beat Frenchman Gillies Simon 7-6, 6-3 in a closely fought 3rd Round match. Nadal’s star has certainly waned but it was great to watch him bustle around the court.
He is an amazing athlete although there are still too many unforced errors but he was obviously estatic to win and a gold medal will be most welcome for a man that has not won a major for over 2 years.
After that came Andy Murray and in front of a lot of Brits in the stadium, which was about two-thirds full for both games, he coasted to the first set against number 49 in the world Italian Fabio Fognini in 20 minutes 6-2. I went out to get some food and a came back and Murray had already broken Fognini in the 2nd set, but then Murray went into one of his familar melt downs and the Italian won the next 5 games to take the 2nd set 6-2.
Now the atmosphere was really ramped up as the Italians came out of the woodwork and the Brazilians got behind the underdog. Incredibly Fognini went into 3-0 lead in the deciding set and Murray cut a forlorn figure. Yet with the Brits, joined now by the locals, doing everything they could to shake the Scotsman from whatever demons that had possessed him, he had lost 8 games in a row, Murray broke a serve back and then as the Italian threw a couple of temper tantrums himself, Murray won the next 6 games to take the set and match. It was a crazy match.
Tomorrow we are back at Barra Olympic Park for the gymnastics, women’s trampoline.