Rafael Nadal recalls: ‘It was remarkable to win Olympic gold medal after rough times’

Rafael Nadal claimed a Major title for the tenth straight year in 2014, conquering Roland Garros for his 14th Major crown after just turning 28! After a tough 2015 season that almost kicked him out from the top-10 for the first time in a decade, Nadal struggled to deal with the rivals from the very top in 2016 as well, lifting two titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and scoring just 39 wins overall, the worst number since 2004! Nadal failed to claim the Roland Garros crown for the second year in a row, withdrawing due to a wrist injury and staying away from the court for two months. The Spaniard was ready to give his best at the Rio Olympics, reaching the semis in singles after a favorable draw but losing the next two encounters to stay empty-handed.

Rafa lost an excellent semi-final encounter against Juan Martin del Potro in the deciding tie break after three hours and eight minutes before another tough loss to Kei Nishikori in a battle for the bronze medal. The 2008 Beijing singles gold medalist still found a way to leave Brazil in glory, winning the doubles gold medal with his great friend Marc Lopez. Between 2009 and 2011, the pair had won a couple of Doha and Indian Wells titles, and they were the sixth seeds in Rio, hoping for some old magic and a chance to win a medal. In the opening round, they defeated Jean-Julien Rojer and Robin Haase before ousting Juan Martin del Potro and Maximo Gonzalez to reach the quarters.

Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez claimed the 2016 Rio Olympics doubles gold medal.

Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya stood no chance against the Spanish pair that scored a 6-3, 6-1 triumph to advance into the semis, where they met Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil. In a super tight encounter, Rafa and Marc prevailed in two tie breaks to secure a medal and set the gold medal clash against the Romanians Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau. After a great battle, Nadal and Lopez prevailed 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 with a late break in the encounter’s last game for a massive celebration and emotional reactions after one of the most significant career wins for both. 

“It was an amazing experience, especially after achieving that with one of my best friends, Marc. It was something unforgettable for both of us. To win a gold medal after two and a half months with no practice and preparation, just working in the gym, was a dream come true. The moment was unbelievable, and we had a lot of fun. We fought hard, and we were thrilled when everything was over,” Rafael Nadal said.