Rafael Nadal’s hopes for a second Olympic singles gold medal were almost crushed in a Friday quarterfinal against Brazil’s unseeded Thomaz Bellucci. The medal favorite edged into the semifinals after taking three sets to win.
A tired Nadal saw the first set blow past him, with Bellucci winning 6-2. Nadal found his focus and established a wide lead in the second, but Bellucci battled back; the Spaniard took that set 6-4.
In the third, Nadal quickly zoomed past his opponent for a 4-1 lead. Once again, Bellucci was able to regain some ground, but the Spaniard won the set.
Final score: 6-2, 4-6,
On Saturday, Nadal will face the winner of the Roberto Bautista Agut/Juan del Potro match in the semifinals.
Should Nadal lose the men’s singles semifinal, he will compete in a Bronze Medal Match. But by advacning to the men’s doubles final alongside compatriot Marc Lopez, the Spaniard is guaranteed at least one medal at the Rio Olympics.