BEIJING: Spain’s Rafael Nadal thrashed Chilean Fernando Gonzalez to win the Olympic Games men’s singles gold medal on Sunday.
Nadal, who becomes world number one on Monday, won 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 to become the first top-five player and the only Spaniard to own the title.
Gonzalez adds the silver medal to his singles bronze and doubles gold from Athens 2004.
Nadal raced through the first set, breaking at 1-0, creating two set points with a delicate drop shot and finishing it with a forehand winner.
Gonzalez pummelled an inside-out forehand into the right corner to create two second-set points on Nadal’s serve, but put a simple volley wide and netted twice as the Spaniard escaped.
Nadal was never behind in the tie-break and thumped his chest as he sprayed a punishing forehand down the line for four set points. Gonzalez miscued a forehand to go two sets down.
The Chilean was tottering and Nadal landed the knock-out blow when he broke for a 3-1 lead in the third. With victory in sight, Nadal saved two break points as he scurried to a Gonzalez drop-shot and guided the ball back past his opponent.
Gonzalez heroically survived three match points – one created by a successful Hawkeye challenge – at 2-5 but the result was inevitable and the Chilean could not get back a wide-angled forehand on the first match point in the next game.
Nadal is set to become number one after more than three years ranked second behind Roger Federer.
He has now won eight titles this year including his fourth French Open crown and first Wimbledon trophy, both at the expense of the Swiss, and has lost just once in 39 matches.
Nadal, an anonymous doubles player at Athens 2004, claims Spain’s first tennis gold after Jordi Arrese and Sergi Bruguera were losing finalists in 1992 and 1996 respectively.
Gonzalez’s third Olympic medal comes after he was embroiled in a row after his semi-final with James Blake, who accused him of bad sportsmanship.
Channel News Asia