Eight years after winning gold in singles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Rafael Nadal won another gold for Spain in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with his great friend Marc López.
After a decade, Nadal nearly dropped out of the top 10 in 2015, battling injuries and failing to raise his form. The Spaniard was unable to challenge his top rivals in 2016, winning two titles in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona and winning only 39 for his worst record since 2004!
Rafa had to withdraw from Roland Garros before his third round match against Marcel Granollers due to a wrist injury. He stayed off the court till the second week of August and the Rio Olympics, where he was ready to give 120% and fight for a medal.
Nadal reached the singles semi-finals with a favorable draw but could not secure a medal for Spain.
Rafael Nadal at Rio Olympics:
Rafael Nadal and Marc López won the gold medal in doubles at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Rafa lost an excellent semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro in a deciding tie-break after three hours and eight minutes, followed by another tough defeat to Kei Nishikori. Battle for the bronze medal. The 2008 Beijing singles gold medalist again brought laurels to Brazil by winning the doubles gold with Lopez.
Between 2009 and 2011, the pair won a couple of titles in Doha and Indian Wells. Hoping for some old magic and a medal, he was seeded sixth in Rio. They beat Jean-Julien Rojer and Robin Haase in the first round before ousting Juan Martín del Potro and Maximo González to reach the quarterfinals.
Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya had no chance against the Spanish pair, who won 6–3, 6–1 to advance to the semi-finals, where they will meet Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil. In a very close match, Rafa and Mark prevailed. The Canadians secured a medal in two tie breaks and set up the gold medal match against Romanians Florin Mergia and Horia Tecau.
After a great fight, Nadal and López won 6–2, 3–6, 6 with a late break in the last game of the tie for massive celebrations and emotional reactions for one of the most important wins of their careers. Won by -4. Rafa Nadal, unable to play in Tokyo in 2021, is expected to recover for next season and will aim for a medal in his last Olympic Games in Paris 2024.