Rio 2016: Rafael Nadal downs hometown hero to advance to men’s singles semi-finals

Rafael Nadal advanced to the semi-finals of the men’s singles semi-finals with a 2-1 (2-6, 6-4, 6-2) win over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci late Friday night.

AFP
Powered by automated translation

Rafael Nadal took another step closer to a double gold medal haul at the Rio Olympics on Friday when he quelled the fierce resistance of Brazilian number one Thomaz Bellucci to reach the men’s singles semi-finals.

The third seed triumphed 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 to secure a sixth win in six matches against his fellow left-hander who was carried to a shock first set success by the raucous centre court crowd who were in a carnival mood.

Nadal, the 2008 singles champion, goes on to the semi-finals, one win away from a place in Sunday’s gold medal match.

Other Olympics tennis action

Andy Murray battled through a second successive three-setter to reach the Olympic Games semi-finals Friday while Monica Puig was one win away from delivering Puerto Rico a first ever gold medal.

Defending champion Murray clinched a 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2) win over Steve Johnson of the United States and goes on to face either Japanese fourth seed Kei Nishikori or France’s Gael Monfils for a place in the gold medal match.

Murray had been 0-3 down in the final set to Fabio Fognini in the third round 24 hours earlier and he was a break down at 3-4 in the decider to the 12th seeded Johnson on Friday before his big-hitting game saw him through.

Murray finished with 31 winners but also 36 unforced errors.

“I expected a tough match. The court is very lively, there’s a lot of wind, so it makes it hard to play,” said world number two Murray.

“If I win tomorrow I am guaranteed a medal. If I lose, I have to come back and play for a bronze. As tennis players we are not used to that.”

Puig, 22, reached the women’s singles final and is already guaranteed at least a silver — only her country’s ninth medal at a Games.

She reached Saturday’s final by beating two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in a rollercoaster match which featured 10 breaks of serve.

Puig, the world number 34, will face either German second seed, and Australian Open champion, Angelique Kerber or American seventh seed Madison Keys for the title.

“It would be unbelievable to win the gold and it would be the biggest honour in the world,” said world number 34 Puig.

“But the Olympics isn’t about me, it’s about Puerto Rico and I know how bad they want this.

“The island is full of such bad news all the time, so every time there’s a Games and somebody from the Island wins a medal everything stops and I know how happy people get. So this one is not for me.”

Kvitova faces the prospect of having to return Saturday and battle for a bronze medal in the third-place play-off.

“I’m very disappointed I have to say. I think this feeling, I haven’t really had for a very long time,” said the Czech 11th seed.

“It was a match I could’ve won but for sure I didn’t take my chances.”

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport