With Stan Wawrinka, Roger Federer's Olympic dream comes true
For all Roger Federer glittering achievements, by the time the Olympic Games in Beijing came around there were two major prizes still missing from the Swiss maestro’s trophy cabinet; a French Open title and an Olympic gold medal. Within the space of 12 months, both spaces were filled.
Federer is widely regarded as the finest protagonist the sport had ever seen, yet his record at the Olympics was at best modest.
He lost the semi-finals in Sydney in 2000 to Tommy Haas as a promising 19-year-old, but what perhaps proved more memorable was him losing his heart at the Games to fellow player Miroslava Vavrinec who would later become his wife.
Four years later in Athens, Federer had his first Grand Slam under his belt and was showing the kind of touch and form that would keep in the number one spot for years to come.
However, he lost to Czech Tomas Berdych in round three and also stumbled at the early stages in the doubles with partner Yves Allegro.
Federer had won 12 majors by the time the world’s finest convened at the Olympic Green Tennis Center in Beijing yet his crown as the world’s top player was coming under increasing threat from Spanish youngster Rafael Nadal.
The two had only the previous month competed in an epic Wimbledon final, won 9-7 in the fifth set by the Spaniard, and many observers felt a Federer-Nadal final was inevitable.
However, Federer’s Olympic curse struck again when American James Blake inflicted a first career defeat against the Swiss in the quarter-finals. The defeat meant Federer lost his number one ranking, to Nadal, for the first time in nearly five years.
Federer’s attention turned swiftly to the doubles where he was paired with Stanislas Wawrinka, a hugely talented strokemaker who had the misfortune to have a career in the shadow of his great countryman.
The two didn’t lose a set in their march towards the semis but faced the mighty American Bryan brothers, the top seeds, for a place in the gold-medal match.
Due to rain delays, the pair had had to beat another formidable doubles pairing in India’s Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi earlier in the day, prevailing 6-2 6-4.
They continued in that vein against the American duo, Federer proving particularly aggressive at the net and both Swiss serving superbly. They won the opener in a tight tie-break and then a break in game seven of the second set sealed the win.
The Swiss then faced Sweden in the final in the shape of veteran Thomas Johansson and doubles specialist Simon Aspelin, and victory was rarely in doubt despite the Swedes taking a tight third set.
Federer and Wawrinka won 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3. Wawrinka slumped onto his back, Federer comically rubbing his hands with glee before embracing his compatriot.
The following June Federer also ended his French Open jinx when he beat another Swede - Robin Soderling - in the final at Roland Garros to complete the set of career grand slams.