Krajicek And Sandgren’s Run To Semis Highlights U.S. Tennis Performance In Tokyo

by Bob Reinert

Tennys Sandgren and Austin Krajicek in their men's doubles first round match at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo.


Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren of the U.S. obviously knew that they had their work cut out for them when they played in the Olympic tennis men’s doubles semifinals Thursday at the Ariake Tennis Park.
After all, they were facing the reigning Wimbledon champions and the world’s top-ranked team in the Croatia duo of Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic. Mektic and Pavic, dominant all year, had only dropped one set in the entire Olympic tournament entering the medal round. 
By comparison, Krajicek, 31, of Brandon, Florida, and Sandgren, a 30-year-old Gallatin, Tennessee, resident, entered the semifinal match ranked 48th and 208th, respectively, in the world. Both were making their Olympic debuts.
The Americans battled hard, but in the end the rankings proved to be accurate predictors of the outcome. The Croatians won the semifinal in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, in an hour, 21 minutes. 
Their countrymen, Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig, emerged victorious from the other semifinal, 6-2, 6-2, over New Zealand’s Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus, in another quick match. The two Croatian teams will now play for the gold medal.

France Tiafoe competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo.


Meanwhile, Krajicek and Sandgren will meet Daniell and Venus in the bronze-medal game. The Americans will be seeking their fourth men’s doubles medal in as many Olympic Games. The gold and bronze medal matches will take place Friday at Ariake Tennis Park.

The Kiwis will provide another stiff challenge for the American duo. Daniell and Venus had reached the medal round by dispatching the No. 3-seeded team of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia, 6-3, 3-6, 10-7, in the quarterfinals.

Like all the tennis competitors, the Americans were contending with the heat and humidity that have taken their toll this week — so much so that officials delayed the start of Thursday’s tennis action for four hours to avoid the worst conditions.

Krajicek and Sandgren had earned their place in the medal round with a 6-3, 7-6 quarterfinal round win over Jan-Lennard Struff and Zverev Alexander of Germany in a match that lasted an hour, 25 minutes.

The bronze medal that Krajicek and Sandgren will play for will be the only hardware available for U.S. tennis players from Tokyo.

The U.S. had most of its success on the doubles side, with the women’s team of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jessica Pegula reaching the quarterfinal round. They lost there to Brazil’s Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani, who prevailed 1-6, 6-3, 10-6.

Jennifer Brady competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo.


Mattek-Sands, 36, of Phoenix, Arizona, had won a gold medal in mixed doubles along with partner Jack Sock at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. A 27-year-old Charleston, South Carolina, resident, Pegula was a first-time Olympian.
The men’s team of Rajeev Ram and Frances Tiafoe advanced to the second round before losing to the Croatian ream of Cilic and Dodig. The other team on the women’s side of Nicole Melichar and Alison Riske lost in their opening-round match to Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini of Italy.
Many of the U.S. doubles players also competed in singles, where they ran into some stiff competition. No U.S. men’s or women’s players advanced to the quarterfinals in singles play at these Games. In fact, no American made it to the third round of singles play in a tournament that featured a number of upsets, particularly in the women’s draw. 
Two U.S. men, Marcos Giron and Frances Tiafoe, won their opening-round matches before falling in the second round. Sandgren and Tommy Paul lost in their first matches. On the women’s side, Pegula, Riske and Jennifer Brady all fell in their opening-round matches.

Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.

Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.