RIO DE JANEIRO, August 13, 2016
Rafael Nadal and Marc López were crowned first medallists of the Rio Olympic Tennis Event 2016 on a thrilling Friday. The Spanish tandem won the doubles final 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 over Romanians Florin Mergea and Horacio Tecau in two hours and 26 minutes.
“It was an amazing experience, especially doing that with one of my best friends, with Marc, it’s something unforgettable for me, for both of us, I think,” Nadal told.
“Win a gold medal today after two months and a half with no practice, with no preparation at all, just working on the gym, is something that is a dream, no? The moment was unbelievable, and we had fun. We fight hard. The only thing that we can say is that we are very, very happy.”
López added: “Sharing these feelings with Rafa, being together at the Olympic Village, it’s really a dream come true. All the things we’ve done together… I am the happiest man on Earth.”
US-Americans Jack Sock and Steve Johnson captured the Bronze Medal, winning 6-2, 6-4 over Canadian combination of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in 63 minutes.
“It’s awesome. I’ve said it all week and I’ll say it again it’s been an awesome time playing with Stevie, playing with a really good buddy. Being on a team representing your country has been an extraordinary experience. Obviously I didn’t feel my best coming in and didn’t have a ton of expectations but really wanted to soak in the experience and be a part of it but, to come away with a medal, no matter what colour it is going to be, is an incredible feeling going into the rest of the summer, rest of the year – and for life. We are going to have these forever and something we can share together. It’s awesome that we can bring them back to the US for the country,” Sock stated and Johnson added:
“I’ve had quite the range of emotions today, in tears after the singles and my team mates picked me up. We had one match to play but I didn’t care how tired I was or how disappointed I was after the singles because I would have liked to have won, but Jack did a great job of getting us fired up to get the great start that we got. It makes a big difference – I couldn’t be any happier now, I don’t even remember the singles so who cares about that. I’m just happy to be standing on that podium with Jack.”
Nadal Advances To Singles Semi-finals
Nadal rallied back from a set down to overcome Thomaz Bellucci and the Brazilian crowd to seal a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory. The Spaniard’s brutal hitting just proved too much for Bellucci after two hours and one minute and the Brazilian couldn’t save match point on his own serve, netting in the middle of the court to hand the contest to his opponent. Nadal not only advanced to the semis but has also become the eighth player in the Open Era to win 800 career matches. He joins Jimmy Connors (1,256 wins), Roger Federer (1,080), Ivan Lendl (1,068), Guillermo Vilas (929), John McEnroe (877), Andre Agassi (870) and Stefan Edberg (801).
Nadal will next play Juan Martin Del Potro. The former US-Open champion from Argentina fought past Roberto Bautista-Agut 7-5, 7-6 in two hours and 11 minutes.
“I cannot believe the moment, the crowd make me cry in every match. It’s a very special tournament, every match is like a final for me and I’m doing a big effort in every point. Of course, the crowd help me to never give up and keep winning,” Del Potro said.
“I don’t want to think about Rafa yet, he is the next opponent and he is the favourite to get to the final and get the medal, but I am so glad with my success and I will try to be 100% or to be in good shape to be competitive.”
Andy Murray squeaked through a second straight close encounter against Steve Johnson. The world number two sent down six aces, winning 78% of his first service points to seal a 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 victory in two hours and 11 minutes.
“It feels special because we don’t get this opportunity all of the time, competing trying to win medals for your country add to the pressure obviously. For me it has nothing to do with having won the gold in London. It’s trying to win more medals for your country and your team and I give my best shot to do that,” Murray said, facing Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals.
The Japanese saved one match point to overcome Gael Monfils 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 in two hours and 53 minutes.
“I think I played a little more aggressive (when match points down) and thought I had nothing to lose at 6-3 down. My concentration wasn’t there at the beginning of the tiebreak so I tried to play a little more aggressive. I close my eyes and tried to come in two points in a row,” Nishikori told.
“You know, I was a little bit lucky at the end of the games, and I am very happy to win today, but I think the tournament is starting now. For the medal I think I have to play well against Andy – someone I haven’t beat for long time. I have to play much better tennis for sure to beat him.”
Puig To Face Kerber In Women’s Final
Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig defeated Petra Kvitova, winning 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in one hour and 53 minutes. She is the first woman from her country ever to win an Olympic medal and she is looking to become the first Puerto Rican ever to win a gold.
“For me it would mean the world and it would be the biggest honour,” Puig said. “I’m doing it more for my country. This Olympics isn’t about me, it’s about Puerto Rico.
“I know how badly they want this. The island is full of bad news all of the time – every time there’s a Games and someone wins a medal, someone from the island wins a medal everything stops and I know how happy people get so this one’s not for me this one’s for them.”
Angelique Kerber edged past Madison Keys, winning 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 29 minutes. Kerber is bidding to follow in the footsteps of her childhood idol, Steffi Graf, who was the last German woman to win an Olympic medal. Graf won a gold medal in singles at Seoul 1988 and a silver at Barcelona 1992.