Lareau, Nestor strike gold in tennis
Canada's Daniel Nestor and Sebastien Lareau were crowned kings of the court Wednesday, after winning the mens' double tennis title.
The gold won by Nestor and Lareau is Canada's first-ever tennis medal.
In a thrilling and tension-filled four-set match that lasted over two-and-a-half hours, Lareau and Nestor upset the number one-seed and crowd favourites, Australia's Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).
- MORE COVERAGE: CBC's Sydney Olympics Web Site
Toronto's Nestor and Boucherville, Quebec's Lareau were seeded fourth at the Olympic tournament, but returned everything that the Australian pair, known as the Woodies, could through at them.
In typical Canadian fashion, the underdog pair overcame a one-set deficit and stormed back to win the next three sets to win Canada's second gold medal to go alongside Simon Whitfield's in the men's triathlon.
Nestor, in particular, has been an Aussie-killer at these Olympics. Nestor defeated Australia's Patrick Rafter in the second-round of men's singles and now teamed up with Lareau to defeat the winningest doubles team in history.
This was the last match for the Woodies together, as the 35-year-old Woodforde is now retiring from competitive tennis. Woodforde would have liked to end his illustrious career on a better note, but Woodbridge double-faulted on the last two points, handing the victory to the Canadians.
"Two double faults in a row in the tiebreaker helps a lot when you're trying to win a gold medal," Nestor told the CBC after the match.
But the Canadians relied on more than just luck to win the gold. The pair played extremely well throughout the Olympic tournament, culminating in the finals, where Lareau and Nestor rose their level play to win the big points. After being broken twice in the first set, the Canadians broke serve once in the second set and again in the third to take the lead.
The Australian pair has been together since 1992 and have won 61 titles including six Wimbledon titles. The defending Olympic champions had to settle for silver in front of the boisterous home crowd at the New South Wales Tennis Centre.
The bronze went to Spain's Albert Costa and Alex Corretja, who defeated the South African duo of David Adams and John-Laffnie de Jager 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 earlier on Wednesday.
The weather conditions were perfect for tennis with little wind and comfortable temperatures, and the 10,000 spectators were treated to an excellent contest. Very few errors were made by either team, as all four players exhibited great shot making with numerous rallies featuring all four players volleying back-and-forth in tight at the net.
Lareau and Nestor lost to the Woodies in an equally thrilling five-set battle in the quarter-finals at this year's Wimbledon and felt this victory was a bit of redemption.
"We didn't start great, but we hung in there. I think we could have beat them at Wimbledon, and I think we paid them back here," Nestor said.
Lareau already has written his name into Canadian tennis history. He teamed up with American Alex O'Brien to win last year's U.S. Open doubles title, marking the first time a Canadian has won a Grand Slam event. But this crowing moment at the Olympics had a different feeling for Lareau.
"I had great memories at the U.S Open, but this is special because it's two Canadians going against a whole country, so it was nice," said Lareau.
Both Lareau and Nestor left successful partnerships at the beginning of the year in order to use the event's on the pro circuit as a training ground for the Olympics, a wise choice it turns out.
"Obviously it was a great decision. It was more (Lareau) deciding he wanted to do it because he already won the Grand Slam and he needed a gold medal in his eportoire," Nestor laughed.
Other tennis action on Wednesday, saw American Venus Williams win the gold medal by defeating Russia's Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-4. The victory runs Williams' winning streak to 32. She teams up with sister Serena in Thursday's doubles final, where they will face the Netherlands' Kristie Boogert and Miriam Oremans.
In the men's single's bronze medal match, Arnaud Di Pasquale of France defeated Switzeralnd's Roger Federer 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (7-9), 6-3.
The men's singles gold medal final will go Thursday. The fifth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia plays Germany's Tommy Haas.