Busy Nadal To Face Bellucci In Rio Quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal (photo: twitter/ITF)

RIO DE JANEIRO, August 12, 2016

After Wednesday’s washout, it was a rain-free but very busy Thursday at the Barra Olympic Park with the men’s singles players in third round action.

Rafael Nadal improves to a perfect 9-0 in Olympic singles matches after defeating Gilles Simon 7-5, 6-3 for the eighth time in his career in two hours and two minutes.

“I won, that’s what’s important. I’m in the quarterfinals, which is very good news. A few days ago I wouldn’t imagine being in this position, but we have the desire and the energy high to give my best at every moment and that’s what I am doing,” Nadal told after his singles encounter. He will next face Brazil’s local hero Thomaz Bellucci, who knocked off eighth seed David Goffin 7-6, 6-4.

Nadal was back in action for his doubles semi-final encounter alongside his partner Marc López, facing Canadians Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil. The Spaniards emerged victorious, winning two tie-breaks 7-1, 7-4 to play for the Gold Medal against Romanians Florian Mergea and Horacio Tecau.

Later the evening, Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have withdrawn from the mixed doubles competiton. As there is no alternate pair on site, Lucie Hradecka and Radek Stepanek will get a walkover into round two.

Juan Martin Del Potro had a great time on Court 2, milking the applause and encouraging the dancing in the stands from the large Argentine contingent that has cheered him to a 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 comeback victory over Taro Daniel. Things were looking a little hairy for the London 2012 bronze medallist after the opening set, but once that forehand found its groove – to the tune of 15 winners – there was only one winner. Del Potro will next play Roberto Bautista-Agut.

“I expect a difficult match. I made a lot of mistakes with my backhand and forehands in the beginning and in the end the crowd helped me a lot to survive and never give up and I think I played much better in the last games,” Del Potro stated.

“It has been a great tournament, great week for me but I am looking forward to go far. I am trying to go far to fight for one medal. I’m still playing well but the next round is going to be a really difficult match for me – Bautista Agut plays so good on this surface. He’s very fast from the baseline so I think it’s going to be an interesting match.”

The 10th seed from Spain edged past Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-6. Bautista-Agut broke the Luxembourg’s serve two times to seal victory in one hour and 31 minutes.

“It’s been a great week. It was tough at the beginning and tiring with a lot of matches but I am really enjoying the week staying in the Olympic village with a lot of great sportsmen and to share a lot of moments with the rest of the team,” Bautista-Agut told.

“I am happy. It is not easy to beat Gilles (Muller) on this kind of surface. He’s a great player, he’s been playing really well on grass and he is with a lot of confidence. I did a great job.”

Andy Murray came back from a break down in the third set, winning 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 over Fabio Fognini. The world number two hit 14 winners and broke the Italian’s serve six times to prevail in two hours and seven minutes.

“Just happy I got through and I have another opportunity tomorrow to play better, hopefully in easier conditions. It wasn’t a great match, it wasn’t pretty and at times it was really hard. I got through it and I won and that’s all that matters,” Murray told.

“The crowd got into the match for sure, it was a good atmosphere. I hadn’t won a game for 45-50 minutes… that doesn’t happen too often. The conditions were making it very, very hard but once I got the momentum I went with it and that was it.”

Murray will next take on Steve Johnson. The 12th seed from the United Stated eased past Evgeny Donskoy, winning 6-1, 6-1 in only 64 minutes.

“I’m having a lot of fun. I feel my game is getting better and better day by day which is always a positive sign in the latter stages of a tournament,” Johnson said and is looking forward to the quarterfinal clash with the world number two.

“Anybody you play out here is not going to be a walk in the park. You go out there, you have a game plan and you make some adjustments. If it doesn’t go well then you have to think on your feet and play a game of chess out there.”

Gael Monfils edged past Marin Cilic, winning 6-7, 6-3, 6-4. The sixth seed from France hit 22 winners and broke the Croatian’s serve two times to prevail in two hours and 26 minutes. Monfils will play Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals. The Japanese had no trouble in his third round clash, as the world number seven has brought an end to the run of Slovakia’s Andrej Martin in Rio, winning 6-2, 6-2 in 66 minutes.

Women’s Semi-Finals Are Set

In the women’s draw, the highest remaining seed Angelique Kerber moved past Johanna Konta 6-1, 6-2. It was an emphatic win for the tournament’s number two in a re-match of the this year’s semis at the Australian Open. Kerber will next face seventh seed Madison Keys, who beat Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1.

11th favourite Petra Kvitova will take on unseeded Monica Puig from Puerto Rico. The two time Wimbledon champion from the Czech Republic defeated Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-0. Puig eased past Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1.