Spain’s Nadal reaches men’s doubles final, pulls out of mixed

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 12 (IANS) Spanish pair of Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez edged over Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (7-4) to reach the men’s doubles final in Rio Olympics tennis here.

It was an emotional victory that moved the 14-time Grand Slam champion to tears here on Thursday, reports Efe.

Nadal, whose participation in these Games was in doubt until shortly before the opening ceremony, decided after seven straight victories over two events that he needed to give his body a rest and withdrew from the mixed doubles, which got under way on Thursday.

The 30-year-old Spanish, who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games but was unable to defend his title in London due to injury, assured himself of a second Olympic medal with the hard-fought men’s doubles victory.

Spain’s flag bearer in Rio Nadal and Lopez will play for gold on Friday against the Romanian duo of Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau, who defeated the American pair of Steve Johnson and Jack Sock 6-3, 7-5 in the other men’s doubles semifinal at the Olympic Tennis Centre here on Thursday.

The Spaniards emerged victorious in a dramatic match that tested the physical reserves of Nadal, who received much-needed support throughout the contest from his partner, a former doubles world No. 3.

Nadal, who was forced to withdraw midway through the French Open with a wrist injury and was off the ATP Tour for two months, was still undecided about his Olympic participation last week but eventually opted to throw caution to the wind and compete in men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles.

The Spaniard showed once again that above all he is a competitor like few others, taking the court with his sights firmly fixed on a medal just two hours after wrapping up a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 third-round singles victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon.

After both teams managed one service break, the first set came down to a tiebreak that the Spaniards won by a surprisingly easy score of 7-1.

Both teams then dominated their service games in the second set until the 10th game, when Spain had multiple match points with Nestor, an eight-time men’s doubles Grand Slam champion and Olympic gold medalist in that event at the 2000 Games in Sydney, serving at 4-5, 15-40.

But the Canadians stayed alive after Nadal failed to put away an easy volley on one match point, came back to win that game and briefly seized the momentum.

In the ensuing game, Nestor and Pospisil had three chances to break Nadal’s serve but were unable to convert and the set eventually came down to a tiebreaker, which the Spaniards won thanks in large part to three costly double faults by the Canadians.

The Spaniards embraced on the ground and Nadal then burst into tears.

–IANS

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