After heartbreak on the singles scene, Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka have redeemed their Olympic dreams with a gold medal in the men's doubles tennis tournament.
The Swiss team overcame the Swedish duo of Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson on Saturday evening at the Beijing Olympic Green Tennis Court, capturing the championship with a score of 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(4-7), 6-3.
Federer raised his racquet in triumph before embracing Wawrinka, their Swiss red and white outfits standing in stark contrast to the blue hardcourt. It is the first Olympic medal for both.
"We had played so well from the beginning to the end," said a visibly elated Federer, who had served to win the final point in front of an adoring crowd in the Chinese capital. "We did it and I am unbelievably happy."
Federer and Wawrinka had appeared on course for a victory in straight sets before the Swedish team prevailed in a third set tiebreak.
The doubles victory was bittersweet for both players, both having been prematurely humbled at the hands of lower-ranked opponents in the singles tournament.
"Having beaten the best in the world and going for gold, it's an incredible scenario," Federer said after his victory in the semi-final. "This is a big moment in my career."
Federer and Wawrinka controlled the first set on Saturday, first breaking the Swedes in the fourth set of a fast-paced match, going up 3-1 after Wawrinka slipped a reaching backhand down the left line past the Swedes.
Serving while down 5-2 still in the first set, the Swedes rallied with a lightning-quick exchange to go ahead 40-30. They ended up drawing closer at 5-3 but Federer was intent on finishing the set, serving two straight aces. The Swiss went on to win 6-3.
Federer and Wawrinka won the second set 6-4, again on strong forehands and agile play. Too often, Aspelin and Johansson responded to the Swiss with errors.
It was only in the second game of the third set that the Swedes broke the Swiss for the first time, to go up 2-0. And when it looked like they would win another, the Swedes double faulted three times in the third set, letting the Swiss back in.
Again ahead with a score of 4-3, Aspelin and Johansson were unable to break the Swiss again as Federer drove a backhand from his left side across the court and between the two Swedes.
The Swedes then went up 6-5 before the Swiss forced the tiebreak, only to lose.
The Swiss broke the Swedes in the fourth set, moving ahead 3-1. The Swedes would win two more games but could not match the Swiss, with Federer serving to win the sixth game.
"Male bonding, as they say in English... You can't properly translate it," said one Swiss television commentator as Federer held Wawrinka, who after having shaken hands with his opponents and the referee, arranged himself flat on his back near the net.
"It compensates in part for the singles loss," he added later. "He will surely sleep well tonight."
Federer, who will lose his singles world number one ranking to Spanish rival Rafael Nadal, was unable to reverse a disappointing season in the singles tournament, losing to American James Blake in the singles semi-final on Thursday.
World tenth-ranked Wawrinka went out in the second round against Austria's Jurgen Melzer after starting the tournament with a win over Canada's Frank Dancevic.
And while Federer, will undergo the discomfiture of having to cede his top position on August 18 and who rarely plays doubles, second-best still beats his world doubles ranking – 352nd. Earlier this year, Wawrinka and his more famous countryman played together for the first time in Toronto.
On Friday, Federer and Wawrinka overcame the top-ranked US team of Bob and Mike Bryan with a 7-6, 6-4 win, but not before finishing a rain-delayed match against the Indian team of Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes, winning with a score of 6-2, 6-4.
Those victories came only one day after Federer's loss to Blake, who himself lost his bronze medal game earlier on Saturday to Serbian Novak Djokovic.
Federer had earlier criticised of the tennis schedule in Beijing, which packed four events into eight days at the Beijing Olympic Green Tennis Court.
"I find it a little bit ridiculous that we're playing maybe 11 matches in seven days, to be honest," Federer said.
swissinfo with agencies
As of August 16, Switzerland has won five medals:
Gold: Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, Tennis, Men's Doubles
Gold: Fabian Cancellara, Cycling, Men's Individual Time Trial
Bronze: Fabian Cancellara, Cycling, Men's Road Race
Bronze: Karin Thurig, Cycling, Women's Individual Time Trial
Bronze: Sergei Aschwanden, Judo, Men's Middleweight (81-90 kg)
Roger Federer was born on August 8, 1981 in Binningen, canton Basel Country.
His father is Swiss German, and his mother South African.
He speaks three languages fluently: German, French and English. At home he uses Swiss German.
He holds numerous records, including as the man to have stayed at the number one ranking for the longest unbroken period.
His doubles record stands at 106-71.
He will lose his top singles ranking to Rafael Nadal on August 18.
Stanislas Wawrinka was born in Lausanne on March 23, 1985.
He is the tenth ranked singles player in the world.
He made his professional debut in 2003 and took home home his first tournament title in 2006.
After a knee injury in February 2007, he returned and reached two finals during tournaments in Stuttgart and Venice.
Since the start of the 2008 he has continued making progress, winning two finals.
His doubles record is 22-35.