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Best of 2016: Team USA strikes gold

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14: Gold medalists Jack Sock and Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States pose on the podium during the ceremony for the mixed doubles on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Tennis Centre on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
December 18, 2016 01:00 PM

As 2016 draws to a close, USTA.com is taking a look back at the top storylines, headlines and highlights from the year in American tennis. Visit our Year in Review homepage to see our complete Top 10.

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

Olympic debutant Jack Sock had a summer to remember,  winning two medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Sock captured gold in the mixed doubles with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and he teamed with Steve Johnson to win bronze in the men’s doubles. Sock was the only tennis player at this year’s Olympics to win two medals.

Team USA was assured of at least one bronze medal in the mixed doubles when Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram joined Mattek-Sands and Sock in the final four, but the two U.S. pairs set up an all-American final – and a guarantee of both gold and silver – with wins in the semifinals.

In a final-set tiebreak filled with drastic swings in momentum in the gold-medal match, Mattek-Sands and Sock raced to a 3-0 advantage before Williams and Ram won six consecutive points to lead 6-3. But Mattek-Sands and Sock rebounded by winning six points in a row themselves, clinching gold on their second match point.

The medal was the first of any kind for Mattek-Sands and Ram, both of whom were first-time Olympians, as was Sock. Meantime, Venus added the silver in mixed doubles to the gold medal she won in singles in 2000 and golds she won in women's doubles with sister Serena in 2000, 2008 and 2012.

In the men’s doubles competition, Sock and Johnson took home the first tennis medal of the 2016 Olympic Games, teaming to defeat the No. 7 seeds Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil of Canada, 6-2, 6-4, in the bronze medal match.

With the victory, Johnson and Sock became the third American pair to win an Olympic medal in men’s doubles since tennis was reinstated as an Olympic sport in 1988. Bob and Mike Bryan took bronze in 2008 and gold in 2012, and Ken Flach and Robert Seguso claimed the top spot on the podium in 1988.

The U.S. has won more Olympic medals in men's and women's tennis than any other nation since tennis’ return to the Games. In fact, the U.S.’s medal total (24) is twice as many as second-place Spain (12).

 

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