Today didn't seem like the most exciting day on the Olympic calendar, but Day 7 still provided some memorable moments and performances. Again, note that spoilers of NBC's prime time do lurk here.
An Epic Day of Tennis It took an incredible two hour, 43 minute final set, but Roger Federer advanced to the Gold Medal Match 3-6, 7-6, 19-17 over Juan Martin Del Potro. The second semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray did not lack for drama either. Twice Djokovic had to hold serve to force a tiebreak, and twice he couldn't do it. Those two breaks gave Murray an emotional 7-5, 7-5 victory. Just three weeks after losing to Federer in the Wimbledon final, Murray gets another chance on Sunday to win glory in front of his countrymen.
The women's semis were much less dramatic, as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, setting up a huge battle for gold. In other action, Federer-Del Potro wasn't the only marathon match. In men's doubles, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Michael Llodra of France defeated David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez of Spain 18-16 in the final set. The Frenchmen will face the Bryan brothers for gold.
USA! USA! On the next to last night of swimming, it was all US, all the time. It started with the 200 backstroke final, which was the Missy Franklin Show. She won easily by nearly 2 seconds, breaking the world record that had stood for three years. While I haven't seen it yet, I'm guessing it's up there with Ye Shiwen and Ryan Locthe's respective 400 IM's and Rebecca Soni's 200 breaststroke as best swims of the meet.
Team USA was far from done. Michael Phelps closed out his individual Olympic career with his 3rd straight gold in the 100 butterfly. Compared to Beijing, he blew them out, beating Chad le Clos and Evgeny Korotyshkin by .23 seconds. After that swim, 15 year old Katie Ledecky shocked the pool by easily winning the 800 meter freestyle. British hopeful and defending champion Rebecca Adlington took bronze. Cullen Jones finished off the night by taking silver in the 50 freestyle to Florent Manaudou of France.
Team USA Update The women's soccer team had little trouble with New Zealand in the quarterfinals, winning 2-0. Canada awaits in the semifinals, as they took out Great Britain. France (who beat Sweden) and Japan (who beat Brazil) will meet in the other semifinal.
The women's volleyball team defeated Serbia today in straight sets to remain undefeated. The women's water polo also won today, beating China. They advance to the quarterfinals (well, every team advanced to the quarterfinals as there are only 8 teams), where they will face Italy. The women's basketball team defeated the Czech Republic 88-61 after an early scare saw them behind after the first quarter.
Beach Volley-D'oh! Phil Dalhassuer and Todd Rogers were among the favorites for gold, but they were upset in the round of 16 by an Italian team and are now out of the tournament. In happier news, our women's "B" team of April Ross and Jen Kessy won their round of 16 match in straight sets.
Boxing Disappointment All of the remaining American male fighters lost today, meaning this will be the first Olympics where they participated that US men's boxing will not earn a medal. Now, given that this is boxing, it's hard to tell how many of those fighters actually lost or just got screwed by the scoring and judging system (the last fighter, Errol Spence, definitely was in the latter group). The lesson, as always: Amateur boxing is as screwed up as pro boxing.
Track and Field Opens The first track medal was awarded in the women's 10,000 meters, and if you have a chance to watch the last lap by Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethopia, do so. Her acceleration after running a 10K to sprint away from the two Kenyans chasing her to take gold might have been the most impressive thing I've seen so far these Games.
Also on the track were the early rounds of the women's 100 and 400 meters, as well as the men's 400 meter hurdles. No surprises there. The first field event to award medals was the men's shot put, won by defending champion Tomasz Majewski, with American Reese Hoffa taking bronze. Finally, day one of the heptathlon concluded with Britain's Jessica Evans on top. American Hyleas Fountain is 5th, but is only 3 points back of third.
Handball Update Because handball is awesome, we will update it whenever possible. Today was the fourth group matches for the women. Norway scored with just 13 seconds left to break a tie and beat Denmark. The Danes were a pre-Games medal possibility, but now sit 1-3 and are all but eliminated. In other matches, France and Russia took the lead in their groups with wins over South Korea and Brazil respectively. The women have one more group match before the knockout round.
Medal Count Update The Americans big day in the pool allowed them to take one medal leads over China in both total medals (43 to 42) and gold medals (21 to 20). Russia is now third in total medals with 23, while South Korea, after yet another archery gold, remains third in gold medals with 9. After picking up more rowing and cycling victories, Great Britain is up to fourth in total medals with 22, 8 of them gold.
On Tap Tomorrow Swimming concludes (well, not counting the two open water events) with the finals of the women's 50 freestyle, the men's 1500 freestyle, and the two medley relays, both of which should be dominated by the US. Get up early though first and watch the gold medal match in women's singles tennis: Serena-Sharapova.
Track and field is headlined by the first big Jamaica vs. USA duel: the women's 100 meter finals. The men's 100 meter early rounds are also tomorrow. Medals will be awarded in the heptathlon, men's 10,000 meters, the men's long jump, the women's discus, and yes, the quixotic men's 20 km race walk.
Men's soccer has its quarterfinal round with the following matchups: Japan-Egypt, Mexico-Senegal, Brazil-Honduras, and Great Britain-South Korea.
There's also more beach volleyball, Team USA Basketball against Lithuania, the women's triathlon, and the last rowing events, among much more. Oh, and we can't forget the finals of the women's doubles badminton. Here's hoping they're trying this time.
Olympics Day 7 Recap