LONDON – Spain’s David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez, who came tantalizingly close to reaching the Olympic tennis men’s doubles final, came away from London empty-handed after losing the bronze-medal match Saturday to France’s Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
The Spanish duo kept pace in a tight first set, holding serve throughout and staving off the lone break point they faced. Their inability to capitalize on two break-point opportunities they created, however, sent the set to a tiebreaker, which Benneteau and Gasquet won with some clutch returning.
Instead of responding at the start of the second set, the Spaniards started to cave in. Ferrer lost his serve in the third game and Lopez donated his two games later to put the Spaniards at a disadvantage they were unable to overcome.
Ineffective returning was the story, as the Spanish team was only able to produce two break-point opportunities for the match and none in the second set.
Afterward, both Ferrer and Lopez said they had a difficult time recovering emotionally from their heartbreaking semifinal loss Friday to the French team of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra.
The Spaniards lost that three-hour-and-a-half match 6-3, 4-6, 18-16, squandering four match points in the process.
“It’s not easy to shake off such a tough defeat in 24 hours, but in the end they’re also good players and they deserved to win,” Ferrer said.
In the first set “we had break points that we were unable to convert. At the start we were nervous. I lacked some spark due to fatigue from (Friday). In the second, they got on top of us and it was tough for us to get it going again,” Ferrer said.
The 30-year-old world No. 5 lamented letting such a great opportunity for an Olympic medal slip away and noted that, considering his age, it will be extremely difficult to make it to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Lopez, also 30, said for his part that the semifinal defeat on Friday was the “toughest loss of his career.”
“We were both trying to assimilate what happened (Friday). We had a hard time coming back from yesterday ... still, if we had won the first set, things would’ve been different,” he said.
Their defeat means that Spain failed to win an Olympic tennis medal for the first time since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
It also added to the Iberian nation’s overall frustration at the London Games, where Spaniards have captured only three medals thus far and no golds.
By comparison, Spain won at least 11 medals and three golds at each of the previous five Olympics, including 13 golds at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
American twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan captured gold in the men’s tennis doubles, defeating Llodra and Tsonga 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) on Saturday.
The men’s singles final will be played Sunday and pit world No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland against home-crowd favorite Andy Murray of Britain.