Men's tennis in Nanjing: Surprise packages and packed schedules
With many of the competitors playing several matches a day across the singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles competitions, there was no shortage of drama on offer on the courts of the Tennis Academy of China.
Top seed settles for bronze
On 21 August, Kamil Adrian Majchrzak (POL) produced one of the surprises of the tournament as he claimed a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over men’s top seed and world junior number one Andrey Rublev (RUS) in the semi-final of the men’s singles.
While Rublev is known for his fiery temper, his downfall at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games was physical rather than mental after struggling badly with cramp throughout a match that included a 10-minute heat break.
Twenty-four hours later, however, the Russian looked like a completely different player as he bounced around Court A at the Tennis Academy of China and swept aside his Japanese opponent Jumpei Yamasaki 6-1, 6-3 in the bronze medal match.
“I wasn’t overly worried about today and somehow it just happened by itself,” Rublev explained after the match. “Up until yesterday my motivation was winning gold but third place is definitely better than nothing.”
Yamasaki, meanwhile, was sad to have missed out on a medal: “I wasn’t in great shape physically,” he admitted. “I’m disappointed.”
Gold for giant-killing Majchrzak
Having beaten Rublev in the semi-final of the men’s singles, Majchrzak went on to defy the odds once again on 23 August in the final to confirm his new-found status as a giant killer.
Ranked 15th in the world, the Polish youngster triumphed over world number three Orlando Moraes Luz (BRA) 6-4, 7-5 and was the first to admit that his gold medal was a surprise.
“Even with the bronze medal I would’ve been the happiest player in the world,” Majchrzak declared. “I can hardly believe what happened. I never would have thought that I could take part in this competition and win it.”
“I’m never going to let the medal out of my sight,” he added. “I’m probably going to end up looking at it every night thinking ‘Wow, I did it’.”
Majchrzak set out his stall early in the match, establishing a 2-0 lead in the first set, and he remained firmly in control until midway through the second.
With his exceptional defensive play and formidable baseline game in full flow, his Brazilian opponent struggled to keep up as the two players toiled in the heat.
Moraes Luz never gave up, however, and even led 5-4 in the second set only for Majchrzak to regain his composure and close out the match with several fine point-winning shots. Ultimately, having played two or even three matches a day throughout the competition, the Brazilian simply had no energy left.
“My body wasn’t at its best today,” Moraes Luz commented after the match. “I’m exhausted, I can’t even put it into words. I gave everything I had to win gold for my country but I have to tip my hat to Kamil Adrian.”
Marathon man Moraes Luz finally wins gold
Although Moraes Luz failed to seal gold in the men’s singles, his involvement in Nanjing was far from over.
On 22 August, the day after his 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Japan’s Jumpei Yamasaki in the semi-final of the singles, the Brazilian was back in action in the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles with partner Luisa Veras Stefani.
While the Brazilian pair were subsequently eliminated by Yamasaki and Ye Qiuyu (CHN) 1-6, 6-3, 10-6, there was even more to come from Orlando.
Having advanced to the semi-final of the men’s doubles alongside Marcelo Zormann Silva, the pairing went on to seal a 6-1, 6-2 victory and a place in the final at the expense of Yamasaki – their third encounter in two days – and Ryotaro Matsumura.
Then, 24 hours after his defeat to Poland’s Kamil Adrian Majchrzak in the final of the men’s singles, Moraes Luz finally claimed a gold medal to add to his silver.
In the men’s doubles final, he and Zormann Silva triumphed after a tense, 7-5, 3-6, 10-3 victory over Russian pairing Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev – a match in which the latter also added his second medal of the games.
Later, in the final, Jil Teichmann (SUI) and Jan Stanislaw Zielinski (POL) beat Ye Qiuyu and Jumpei Yamasaki 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 – providing Yamasaki with his second medal of the Games, to go with the bronze he won in the men’s doubles.