Canadians spoil Woodies' fairytale ending
It began as a joyous celebration of a brilliant career but ended as a wake.
Daniel Nestor and Sebastien Lareau of Canada stunned top-seeded Australians Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde on Wednesday to win the men's doubles gold medal at the Olympic Games.
Nestor and Lareau beat the defending Olympic champions 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) in two hours 46 minutes, stunning a sell-out crowd that had expected a home victory in the Woodies' final match as a team.
Instead, Woodbridge and Woodforde, the most successful doubles combination of all time, said farewell to their Australian fans as losers.
The match ended when Woodbridge, who struggled throughout the match, served two successive double faults to hand victory to the Canadians.
It was Canada's first Olympic gold medal in tennis --- and the first major title for Nestor and Lareau.
The fourth-seeded pair had twice lost to the Woodies earlier in the year but they played cool, calm tennis to silence the pro-Australian crowd and rob the Woodies of a fairytale farewell.
The Woodies had aimed to bow out by becoming the first team to successfully defend the Olympic men's doubles title -- but left-hander Nestor and Lareau silenced a crowd that began the day in festive mood, singing Waltzing Matilda and repeatedly chanting "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi. Oi. Oi."
While the Australians started well enough, they were worn down by their more consistent rivals. Woodbridge, in particular, wilted in the quick-fire cut and thrust.
The Australians, who won 11 Grand Slam titles, an Olympic title and helped Australia to victory in the Davis Cup, will almost certainly not play again as a combination.
With Woodbridge's wife Natasha expecting a baby in December, he will not be available to partner Woodforde for Australia in the Davis Cup final against Spain.
Woodforde, who turned 35 last Saturday, may still play -- but with another partner -- in Barcelona before bringing the curtain down on his playing career at the end of the year.
Woodforde, the one with the flaming red hair, and Woodbridge, with the schoolboy grin, bowed out of tennis with a total of 61 doubles titles, including six at Wimbledon. No pair in history won more doubles titles.
Their final year in 11 years as a team had been one of their most successful and they split as the number one-ranked pair in the world after victories at both the French Open and Wimbledon this summer.
The bronze medal went to Spanish pair Alex Corretja and Albert Costa, who beat fifth-seeded South African combination David Adams and John-Laffnie de Jager 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.
The match was halted by rain on Tuesday night with the Spaniards leading 3-2 in the third set.
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