Rafael Nadal, the Beijing 2008 gold medallist, is guaranteed another Olympic medal after reaching the men’s doubles final with Marc Lopez on Thursday.
The Spanish pair defeated Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil 76(1) 76(4) in a tight semifinal lasting a minute over two hours, played on a packed Court 3 at the Olympic Tennis Centre.
Having secured victory, Nadal and best friend Lopez celebrated wildly, Lopez falling to the ground in tears and the 14-time Grand Slam champion kissing him as he lay flat on his back on the court.
By reaching the doubles final at Rio 2016, Nadal now has the chance to become the fourth player in the modern era of tennis in the Olympics (since Seoul 1988) to own gold medals from both the singles and doubles events. Venus Williams, Serena Willams and Nicolas Massu are the players to have already achieved this, with Massu doing so in one Games, at Athens 2004.
“I’m very happy, extremely excited and [to] enjoy this moment here in the Olympics, especially with one of my best friends, with Marc, is something unforgettable,” said Nadal, who was uncertain if he would even compete in Rio because of the wrist injury that had kept him out of competition since Roland Garros.
“We are extremely happy, with high emotions on court, lots of nerves, we really enjoy it a lot. Just a moment to enjoy because we have a silver and now try and be ready for tomorrow.”
When Nadal and Lopez go for gold in the doubles final on Friday, they will also bid to secure Spain’s best-ever result in Olympic men’s doubles, as they seek to improve on the silver medal won by Sergio Casal and Emilio Sanchez 28 years ago in Seoul.
Their opponents in the doubles final will be Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau, who stand to make a bit of history of their own. The Romanian duo, who beat Americans Steve Johnson and Jack Sock 63 75 in their semifinal, have already guaranteed their country’s first Olympic tennis medal of any colour. What’s more, Romania has yet to win a medal in any sport at the Rio 2016 Games.
The men's doubles gold medal match, featuring Rafael Nadal/Marc Lopez and Florin Mergea/Horia Tecau will take place on Friday.
Photos: Getty Images; AFP; Panoramic
• Interview after the match