Road To The Olympic Games

Tennis

Daniel Nestor, Vasek Pospisil to play for Olympic tennis bronze

Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez will play for a gold medal Friday following a 7-6 (7), 7-6 (6) semifinal victory over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor at the Olympic Tennis Centre on Thursday afternoon. The Canadians will battle for bronze.

Canadians to face Americans Steve Johnson, Jack Sock after straight-sets loss to Spain

Vasek Pospisil, left, and Canadian teammate Daniel Nestor returns to Spain's Marc Lopez and Rafael Nadal in men's doubles action at the Rio Olympics Thursday. Spain won 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4) and will play for a gold medal while Canada goes for bronze. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

By Doug Harrison, CBC Sports

Spain's Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez will play for a gold medal Friday following a 7-6 (7), 7-6 (6) semifinal victory over Canada's Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor at the Olympic Tennis Centre on Thursday afternoon.

Nestor and Pospisil will battle for bronze on Friday against Steve Johnson and Jack Sock of the United States.

Spain prevailed after two hours one minute on Canada's third double fault of the tiebreaker and match, but it was Nadal's groundstrokes that proved the difference.

Trailing 5-4 before the tiebreaker, Canada fought back from match point down to hold serve and even the set.

But Nadal and Lopez took the lead again when Nestor and Pospisil couldn't convert on three break points.

With Canada up 40-30 in the next game, Nestor's cross-court shot appeared to land inside the line for the win as evidenced by a mark on the court but it was called out, prompting heated words from the Canadian.

"I just felt that no matter what the situation was we were going to get the wrong call," Nestor said after the match. "[The chair umpire] was so quick to call it in. It just seemed that … I'm not going to [stand] here and make excuses.

"When you miss a call that's a foot-and-a-half in and another [critical] one in the first set that's at least two inches out, you lose faith in the umpire and that's what happened."

Pospisil said he and Nestor would "reassess" before looking ahead to Friday's bronze-medal game versus familiar opponents in Johnson and Sock.

"We have a great opportunity [to win a medal in] a very tough match and it would be incredible to win that one," he said. "We'll be fully prepared."

With the opening set tied 5-5, Nadal couldn't handle a serve by Nestor, who put the game away with an ace to make it 6-6 and force a tiebreaker.

Canada took a 2-1 lead on strong serving by Nestor combined with its ability to clog up the middle of the court on the Spaniards.

Nestor and Pospisil broke Nadal to extend the advantage to 3-1 before Nadal and Lopez tied the match 4-4.

At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 43-year-old Nestor teamed with Sebastien Lareau to upset heavy favourites Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde of Australia  in the gold-medal match. The Toronto native was added to Canada's Olympic team after star Milos Raonic withdrew because of concerns over the Zika virus.

One of only five tennis players to compete at six consecutive Olympic Games, Nestor has won more than 1,000 doubles matches over his ATP career and won eight Grand Slam titles with various partners.

Earlier Thursday, Nadal won his third-round singles match, downing France's Gilles Simon 7-6 (5), 6-3 in two hours two minutes. He will play Thomaz Belucci of Brazil in the quarter-finals.

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