PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal will play for bronze medal after losing to Juan Martin del Potro

Rafael Nadal’s bid for an unprecedented second Olympic singles gold medal ended with a thrill-a-minute semifinal loss to Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentinian won 5-7, 6-4, 7-6.

Rafa and Kei Nishikori will play each other in the bronze medal match on Sunday.

After the match, Rafa said:

It was good match, good level of tennis and all I can say is congratulations to Del Potro.

I try my best, I give my best ’til the last ball but that’s like this. I am very satisfied by what I did the whole week.

Tomorrow is another day and I’m going to try to be ready for it. (via ITF)

The players traded the first two sets. Coming back from a 3-0 deficit, Rafa eventually rallied to defeat del Potro in the first, 7-5. The second set saw del Potro eek past Nadal, 6-4.

Rafa and del Potro were tied halfway through the third. Del Potro eventually won a break point at 4-4 after Rafa belted a ball just beyond the baseline. The crowd roared: “Del-po! Del-po! Del-po!”

The Spaniard ripped through the next game, tying the score once again at 5-5. Again, the crowd went nuts: “Rafa! Rafa! Rafa!”

It went to a third set tiebreak. Del Potro established a lead, but Nadal hit some amazing shots as he tried to catch up. WhenRafa hit a shot long, Del Potro won the tiebreak and the match.

Sources: NBC, ITF

74 comments

  1. Rafa you played brilliantly against Del Potro The game could have gone either way. Fingers crossed that you have enough energy to win the bronze to-morrow.
    I read that you intend playing in Cincinnati and that worries me.I feel you would be best to rest and be fresh for the US Open. You could aggravate your wrist with all this playing and be forced to withdraw from the US.
    I hope your doctor advises you against Cincinnati. If he does please listen to him.

  2. For the first time in about 2 years, the Nadal 2013-14 was back. Wow, and I mean RAFA will most definitely improve if the wrist is okey now. The backhand is really good at the moment, he hits it with good pace. The forehand was a lot better today.

    The US Open will be a 3-horse race between Novak, Andy and Rafa.

    I like the changes he has made with his serve in the ad court, because Rafa tends to lean/jump towards his backhand after he has hit his serve. Just add a bit more pace on the serve more consistently and we have a good shot to win 1-2 grand slams.

  3. Rafa you play so good it was to clouse Mach .the best tennis you play.and give all vamosssssssssssssssssssi love you play very good .you have a gold and doubles .congrats 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🎾🎾🎾👍👍👍❤️❤️❤️🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🎾🎾🎾👍👍👍

  4. Rafa was just magnificent all week long. Who would have expected such phemonenal
    results from Rafa after being without match play since the early french open withdrawal
    due to injury. I was so thrilled when he and Marc won the Gold for Doubles. Another tremendous effort!

    Also thrilled by his remarkable performance today against Del Potro. It could have went either way. Congratulaltions to Del Potro for his wonderful resurgence this week. I am also
    happy for DelPotro, another wonderful sportsman and competitor. It’s been a pleasure
    to watch these all time greats competing for their countries.

    Best wishes to Rafa tomorrow against Kei in his pursuit for the Bronze. Rafa doesn’t even need another medal to prove how great a champion he is. Thank you for these wonderful memories!

  5. Bravo et merci à rafa pour ce match superbe !! Il est là notre champion de rafa 👍👍👍👍👍très beau parcours durant ces jo de Rio 👏👏👏aujourd’hui il aurait fallu décerner 2 medailles d or tant ce match était de haut niveau et surtout ça c est joué à si peu 👏👏👏👏👏

  6. 1tres beau match qui méritait 2 medailles d or tant il était de très grand niveau ! Rafa à été monstrueux et il ne méritait pas de perdre car ça c est joué à si peux ! Pour moi il n y a pas eu de perdants dans ce match mais c est ainsi et c est bien dommage ! Donc maintenant on va jouer pour le bronze et je suis de tout coeur derrière notre rafa ! Il a fait 1 parcours magnifique durant ces jo de Rio et l on à vu quel grand champion il est 👍👍👍👍bravo rafa et vamos pour ce dernier match ❤❤❤❤💕❤

  7. Rafa you played so well today and it could have gone either way but wasn’t to be for you so sad for you but you have had a great week done so much better than we expected due to your long lay off from tennis due to injury
    You will still remain for ever our special champion and hope you will be around for a long time yet as can’t imagine tennis without you
    You are truly a great tennis player and a great person loved by all
    So god luck for tomorrow 😄

  8. What a match by both players. Nadal did everything he could; hopefully he’ll be in form for Us Open after a torrid GS year, but it’s great to see him back in some form.

    An incredible week for Del Potro. Lowest ranked player in history to fight for gold, he’s played brilliantly all week. Djokovic and Nadal both knocked out by this gentle giant, now Murray. Thinking over a 5 set match Murray is the favourite, but Del Potro has played well enough to beat anybody. Gonna be a good match.

  9. Feeling sad (because he was soooo close, and when he’s rebreaking and loosing after it’s always hard to take) and at the same time I’m feeling proud and exhausted after watching all these (partly) dramatic matches. I dream of hunderts more to come! Cannot imagine tennis without you. Rafa, rest well and give it all again tomorrow. It has been such a great week.

  10. Rafa, you played very very well but I suspect that 20 hours of court time and esp your tough matches yesterday exacted their toll. Still you did a lot better than Nole against a super tough opponent – I still think you are the G.O.A.T.. Best of luck tomorrow.

    • Agree, too many hours on court, otherwise he probably would have won but he looked very tired and that’s why he made a couple of mistakes missing the opportunity to reach the finals

  11. This match a perfect example of how great this man is. I have never been so proud to be a fan.
    Yes, we def saw the Rafa we love. Sad irony that he didn’t play timid at the end, going for a routine forehand and just missing with the match on his racket after teetering on the edge. After playing almost 20 hours.
    Wish every week was a 10 match Rafa week.
    He DESERVES THE BRONZE.

  12. I totally agree with you Michelle, I don’t feel sad just disappointed as the match could have gone either way. The final has a lot to live up to , to top this match , I have never seen a player who gives so much on the court , no matter what the score he fights to the end . Younger players could learn so much from him . He took a set off Del Potro ( something the world s no 1 couldn’t manage ) and the third set went down to the wire. Lovely to see Marc watching and supporting Rafa . One more match to go now , and if he plays like he did today the bronze will be hanging round his match . 😍🇪🇸

  13. Awesome what Rafa has done in this Olympics. After to get the Golden Medal in doubles he wasn’t far to reach the finals in singles, just because a couple of mistakes, on the contrary he would have made it but I don’t feel bad at all, I think he got more than he thought after to be two months out of court and not too much preparation. Now he has time to take a little rest before the USO where I’m sure he will do good

  14. Rafa I am sooo proud of you you played your heart out today the old fire and confidence was there on show..could have gone either way congrats to delpo….considering you haven’t played for 2 months you were amazing this week..and winning Gold with Marc was magic..Vamos Rafa hope the rest of the season is as good..

  15. I am sad for Rafa as he had to play 9 sets in a 24 hour period and even a herculean god has his limits, but he did give his all in this match up fighting for every point and that’s all we can ask of him because he did try his best up to the last point. Looking forward to seeing him fight for the Bronze medal tomorrow. Vamos Rafa you are a roaring bull never give up that fight!!!!!!

  16. rIsabelle, not sad. Rafa played the best he has done for a long time, and lost by a hair’s breadth. I thought his form in his other singles matches this week was not that good, but this was the old Rafa back again, full of confidence, so I am glad to see that. He played his heart out, showed all his brilliance, and despite the disappointment, I think he has proved to himself that he still has all the old fire.

    So don’t be sad – be proud!!

  17. He was so close – closer than I expected in the circumstances. The positive is that he is playing well – very well but must have been tired. He will be happy with what he has achieved and we should be too. Best of luck for the Bronze Rafa – you deserve it!

  18. hope you do well on sunday,just arrived back from mallorca tonight but have been watching in the hotel with some of your spanish fan you really have done well, hope you can get the bronze metal,vamos rafa.

  19. Has jugado fenomenal. Del Potro es muy duro de combatir con el saque que tiene. Lo curioso es que un pequeño fallo al final haya hecho que pierdas, estando a 6|5…Como la vida misma.

  20. Hate that you lost, but you fought hard despite not being 100%. So much heart❤️
    and guts! Keep fighting-the year continues. Hope the wrist is holding up through
    all of these matches. Good luck against Nishikori.💪👏👍👊😎😠❤️

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