Defending champion Andy Murray survived a scare to reach the quarterfinals of the men’s Olympic tennis tournament with a three-set victory over Italian Fabio Fognini on Thursday.
Murray won 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 after rallying back from a 0-3 third-set deficit against Fognini, who won eight straight games before the Briton regained control of the encounter.
Spain’s Rafa Nadal also booked his spot in the last eight with a 7-6(5), 6-3 win over Frenchman Gilles Simon. He later teamed up with Marc Lopez in men’s doubles to beat Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in the semifinals 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4).
The Olympic tennis tournament has been marked by some major upsets in the opening rounds and both Murray and Nadal were tested on Thursday, in gusty conditions after rain delays had cancelled play on Wednesday.
Murray is favourite to clinch a second straight gold medal following the first-round exit of world number one Novak Djokovic to Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro.
Nadal, a 14-time Major winner, is playing in his first tournament in two months after a wrist injury caused an early withdrawal from the French Open.
After torrential rain wiped out Wednesday’s entire programme, the 30-year-old faced an epic test of his fitness and stamina.
Simon’s only win over Nadal came eight years ago, but he proved a thorn in the side of the Spaniard in the opening set.
He broke for 2-1 before the Spaniard levelled at 2-2. Nadal was quickly 4-2 up but the dogged 15th seed hit back in the seventh game.
Nadal swept to a 5/1 lead in the tiebreaker but he still couldn’t shake off the 31-year-old who clung on for 5/5 before the former world No 1 grabbed the opener.
The second set started far more comfortably with Nadal grabbing a double break to stretch to 4-0 on his way into the last eight.