Road To The Olympic Games

Tennis·Recap

Canada's Nestor, Pospisil breeze into men's doubles semifinals

Canada's Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil advanced to the men's doubles tennis semifinals Tuesday with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 victory over Italy.

Canadians guaranteed chance to play for medal, will face Spain's Nadal and Lopez

Canada's Daniel Nestor, left, chats with his doubles partner Vasek Pospisil at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

By Joe Pack, CBC Sports

Sixteen years after he won gold in Sydney, Daniel Nestor of Toronto will play for another Olympic medal in Rio. The only question is whether he and doubles partner Vasek Pospisil will play for gold or bronze.

Nestor and Pospisil advanced to the Olympics men's doubles tennis semifinals Tuesday with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 victory over Italy. 

"We played a great match, very crisp." Nestor said. "We're hitting the ball great, both of us. We were all over them and we didn't let the foot off the pedal."

Italy's Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi struggled to contend with Canada's service and defensive games.

Nestor and Pospisil will compete in the semifinals on Wednesday. If they win, they advance to the gold-medal match. If they lose, they'll play for bronze.

Canada will play Spain's Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez in the semis. The Spanish pair swept Austria 6-3, 6-1 in their quarter-final match Tuesday. 

Quick set

Nestor and Pospisil dominated in the second set against Italy, winning in just 26 minutes. Three of Canada's four break point conversions were in the second set alone.

Italy appeared frustrated after playing a handful of close games in the first set — something they couldn't replicate in the second. Nestor and Pospisil made plenty of work for Fognini and Seppi when receiving the ball, while they breezed through their own service games, ultimately winning 65 out of 102 points.

After the first set, Canada had won 44 per cent of balls received, meaning they were winning almost half of all points during the Italians' service games. 

The duos split the first six games, with Canada forcing deuce after deuce when the Italians had the ball. When Canada finally broke serve to go up 5-3 in the first set, they never looked back.

Strong medal favourite

Pospisil was assertive at the net for much of the match, creating good angles and not allowing many volleys by his opponents. His relative decline in the ranks of men's singles this season has perhaps hurt his confidence, and Canada's ability to run over opponents this tournament could help turn that around.

The 26-year-old Pospisil might have been paired with Canadian Milos Raonic had Raonic not pulled out of the Games. Instead, he's likely benefiting from the calm execution that the veteran Nestor brings to doubles tennis.

Nestor's vision and ability were on full display in the match. His strong court sense helped dictate the pace of the game.

The Rio Games are the sixth Olympic competition for the 43-year-old Nestor, who won gold in 2000 with Sebastien Lareau.

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