THERE will be no third Olympic gold medal for Andy Murray. 

Completing the hat-trick of wins, considering the injury issues the 34-year-old has been forced to battle in the past few years, always seemed like a long shot. And so it proved. 

His withdrawal in the singles prior to the tournament beginning was as a result of a thigh strain and the resultant medical advice to only play one event. It was, then, the doubles, in which he was partnering doubles specialist Joe Salisbury, he deemed was his best opportunity to claim a place on the podium. 

Their first-round victory against the seconds seeds bode well. 

In the quarter-finals, the Brits faced the Croatian duo of Ivan Dodig and Marin Cilic and, as we have seen time and time against in this Olympic Games, a couple of points here and there can be the difference between jubilation and heartbreak. 

Murray and Salisbury began strongly, winning the first set 6-4 before moving into a 4-2 lead in the second. 

However, the Croats hit back, recovered the break of serve and gained the momentum to take that second set 7-2 in the tie-break. 

A championships tie-break – the first to 10 points – is being used in this Olympics in place of a deciding third set and it is hard to argue that such a cut-throat deciding set format is anything other than cruel and merciless when the stakes are so great. 

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The Croats, who are a formidable doubles combination, were clinical, closing out the match 10-7 to move into the semi-finals. 

Murray was, understandably, devastated in his failure to add further to his Olympic medal collection. 

“I’ve loved every minute of playing the Olympics,” the Dunblane man said.  

“I wished today could have gone differently and had another chance with Joe to win a medal. We were so close and that’s what is disappointing.  

“I would have liked to have done some stuff differently in the match to try and help out more, that’s what’s disappointing. 

“You have regrets, think about points you should have done differently. 

“It’s hard. I hate losing. I wanted to try and win a medal with Joe. So, it’s difficult to take.” 

This may now, Murray admits, be the end of the Olympic road for him.  

A singles gold and mixed doubles silver at London 2012 was followed by the successful defence of his singles title in Rio in 2016 but it seems likely that Murray will not be present in Paris in 2024. 

He will be 37 by then and while he was reluctant to rule anything out, he sounded somewhat pessimistic about the possibility of a fifth Olympic appearance having made his debut in 2008. 

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“I don’t know about Paris,” said Murray. “I’ve got to get the opportunity to play again. 

“But I’ve always loved team sports, I love being part of the Olympics, it’s an amazing experience.” 

Fellow Brit Liam Broady’s impressive run in the singles ended in the third round with defeat to Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy but Novak Djokovic’s quest for the ‘Golden Slam’ – all four major titles plus Olympic gold in one year – continues. The Serb comfortably defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and now plays home favourite, Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.