Drop a little bit of rain onto an Olympic tennis event and what do you get? Bedlam (of sorts). With Cincinnati on the horizon and the week winding down, it’s a question of packing as many matches as possible into a Rio coloured schedule, and then crossing your fingers none of them take too long. Fortunately, in the men’s third round and women’s quarters, that’s exactly what happened.
The men’s action:
Are there two undefeated Olympians in the men’s draw? After all, Rafa Nadal – who missed London 2012 – could perhaps argue that he’s sort of defending his Beijing Gold. Whether he is defending, or just chasing a second Olympic Gold, he’s doing it in fine style. The Spaniard ousted Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6(5) 6-3, booking his spot in the quarterfinals.
“I won, that’s what’s important,” Rafa reflected. “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.”
Rafa is edging perilously close to a potential blockbuster semifinal with Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine, who is enjoying a stellar run in Rio, downed Taro Daniel 6-7(4) 6-1 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal clash with Roberto Bautista Agut.
On the other side of the draw, Andy Murray’s match was all about finding a way to win. Fabio Fognini was never going to be an easy opponent for the Brit, having previously beaten him in Davis Cup. On this occasion, however, the defending champion rode out the Fognini storm, emerging the 6-1 2-6 6-3 victor.
“It wasn’t a great match, it wasn’t pretty and at times it was really hard,” Murray said. “I got through it and I won and that’s all that matters.”
Elsewhere, Thomas Bellucci kept Brazilian hopes alive with a 7-6(10) 6-4 win over David Goffin; Kei Nishikori walloped Andrej Martin 6-2 6-2; and Steve Johnson marched into the quarterfinals with a 6-1 6-1 win over Evgeny Donskoy.
The women’s action:
How hard is it to back up a major upset? Really hard, as Elina Svitolina found out today. Just 48 hours after springing the second biggest upset of the Olympics, the Uktranian was on the receiving end of a 6-2 6-0 trouncing from Petra Kvitova.
Kvitova’s win set up a mouthwarering semifinal against Monica Puig. The popular Puerto Rican is in blistering form this week, today dsimissing Laura Siegemund 6-1 6-1.
“I want to be playing for the gold medal, that’s the next goal,” Puig pondered. “I want to go little by little. This morning I woke up and thought ‘okay, I want to get to the medal round and now I’m in the medal round I have to set myself a bigger goal’.”
If Puig does make it to the final, there’s every chance she’ll be facing Angelique Kerber. The Australian Open champion is a woman on a mission in Rio, blowing away Jo Konta 6-1 6-2. Kerber will face Madison Keys in the second semifinal, the American beating Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-1.
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