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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | TENNIS

Australian Pair Win Doubles After Exodus

Men: Small but boisterous crowd gives Woodbridge and Woodforde a lift over Brits Henman and Broad.

August 03, 1996|MIKE PENNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ATLANTA — Apparently forgetting that men's tennis doubles is an Olympic medal sport, fans at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center streamed for the exits Friday afternoon once the women's singles medals had been presented to Lindsay Davenport, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Jana Novotna.

That left Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde, Tim Henman, Neil Broad and dozens of others alone in Center Court for the men's doubles final. For the record, the Australians--Woodbridge and Woodforde--beat the Brits, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Yes, that was the final score, not the total attendance.

"It's a bit disappointing for an Olympics final to have the crowd leave," Woodbridge said. "Especially when there's people wanting to get tickets [to an Olympic event]. You know they want to come, but these people leave.

"But we had such a great support group they made up for it."

The support group, a rag-tag collection of Australian Olympians just over from the village, made enough noise that, on occasion, the players couldn't hear a tennis ball drop.

They were Australians, weren't they?

"No one else is stupid enough to paint themselves green and gold," Woodbridge said with a laugh.

The gold medal was the seventh major doubles championship for Woodbridge and Woodforde. The so-called "Woodies" have won the last four Wimbledon titles, plus the 1992 Australian Open and 1995 U.S. Open championships.

Meanwhile, Henman and Broad, competing for Britain, were playing only their second tournament together as doubles partners.

The match went as expected.

"Once we settle down and feel comfortable on the court, we feel like we're going to beat most teams in the world," Woodbridge said. "Especially against a new team having to play with Olympic pressure."

Having won the gold medal in near seclusion, Woodbridge assured reporters that there would be more of a crowd when he brought the medallion back home.

"It's going to go in a nice trophy cabinet," he said. "It will sit well next to our Wimbledon ones."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

MEDALISTS / Tennis

Women's Singles

GOLD: Lindsay Davenport, United States

SILVER: Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Spain

BRONZE: Jana Novota, Czech Republic

*

Men's Doubles

GOLD: Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, Australia

SILVER: Neil Broad and Tim Henman, Britain

BRONZE: Marc-Kevin Goellner and David Prinosil, Germany

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