Nadal wins doubles Gold, closer to Singles glory
Rafael Nadal won his second Olympic Games gold medal on Friday and
took a step closer to a third by reaching the Rio singles semi-final.
Spanish great Nadal and longtime friend Marc Lopez defeated Romania's
Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau 6-2, 3-6, 4-6 in the men's doubles title
Nadal, the 2008 singles champion in Beijing, is just the fourth
player to win gold in singles and doubles after Serena and Venus
Williams and Chile's Nicolas Massu.
"It was an amazing experience to win with my best friend," said Nadal
after victory was secured courtesy of a wild Tecau smash, sparking an
emotional celebration between the two Spaniards. "We fought and gave
everything. I didn't play for two and a half months, no practice, just
work in gym. We had fun and fought hard."
Earlier, the 30-year-old defeated Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci 2-6, 6-4,
6-2 in the singles quarter-finals.
The 14-time major winner faces Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on
Saturday for a place in the final.
Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion who was pushed to the brink of
retirement by years of wrist trouble, downed Spain's Roberto Bautista
Agut 7-5, 7-6 (7/4).
The Argentine, who knocked out world number one Novak Djokovic in the
first round, wept in his courtside chair at the end of the quarter-final
in which he fired 42 winners. Defending champion Andy Murray will face
Japan's Kei Nishikori in the other semi-final.
In the women's singles, Monica Puig made Saturday's final where she
will play Germany's Angelique Kerber for the chance to win Puerto Rico's
first gold medal.
"Being in the singles semi-finals is something that a few days ago I
wouldn't even imagine," said Nadal, who is playing in his first
tournament since the French Open where he suffered an injury to his left
Del Potro has seen his ranking slip from four in the world to 141
after undergoing three surgeries and missing large parts of the last two