They won some, they lost some. But Americans fought hard in latter-round competitions on day seven of Rio tennis, and ended up with a medal.
First up was Steve Johnson, competing against World No. 2 Andy Murray in a singles quarterfinal. Johnson – who’s already exceeded expectations at these Olympics – was a big underdog against Murray, the Scot who won Wimbledon last month.
Once again, Johnson – ranked World No. 22 – performed far better than anticipated, and was close to clinching another victory. Though the American was all but destroyed by Murray in the first set (losing 6-0), he battled back in the second. Johnson traded points with Murray, ultimately winning that set 6-4.
The third set was particularly epic, with Johnson tying Murray game-for-game. It came down to a tense tiebreak, which Murray dominated.
Final score: 6-0, 4-6, 7(7)-6(2).
Madison Keys faced an equally tough opponent in Germany’s World No. 2 female player, Angelique Kerber. Like Murray, Kerber won a Grand Slam title earlier this year at the Australian Open. Also like Murray, Kerber is now a medal favorite as a result of the number one seed’s early exit (Novak Djokovic in the first round, Serena Williams in the third round).
Keys was a bit sloppy in her first set, which Kerber won 6-3. But she played harder and took bigger risks in the second, tying the German on multiple occasions.
Unfortunately, her error-prone game was no match for her near-perfect opponent.
Final score: 6-3, 7-5.
Though Keys fell to Kerber, she could still win a singles medal. The American will play in a Bronze Medal Match either Saturday or Sunday.
Despite the losses, the United States finally earned its first tennis medal today in men’s doubles. Back on the court, Johnson teamed with Jack Sock to down the Canadian team of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in straight sets, 6-2, .
Fun fact: Back in 2014, the U.S.’ Sock and Canada’s Pospisil won a Wimbledon title together.
This is the third straight Olympic men’s doubles medal for a U.S. team, following Bob and Mike Bryan‘s bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games and gold medal at the 2012 London Games.