More articles by

Mathew T George
Mathew T George


Crammed schedule, withdrawals mark tennis in Rio

PTI8_7_2016_000032B Sania Mirza returns the ball during a doubles match with her partner P. Thombre (unseen) against Chinese players at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday | PTI Photo

The torrential downpour on Thursday in Rio, crammed the tennis schedule for Friday. Spanish legend Rafael Nadal would have had a three-match day. But, he entered the quarterfinals of the men’s singles, ensured a medal in men’s doubles and withdrew from mixed doubles. At one point, Indian fans were waiting for the men’s doubles match to get over on Court 3 for the mixed doubles to begin.

In the men’s event, Nadal-Marc López defeated Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil. The win has ensured the Spaniards of a medal. In the men’s singles, Nadal is aiming for a historic gold, to add to his Beijing 2008 gold. And, reigning singles champion Andy Murray is also aiming for the same.

Murray, too, was drafted late into the mixed match on Friday, after Romanians Monica Niculescu and Florin Mergea withdrew. Murray and Watson beat David Ferrer and Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-3, 6-3. Then Nadal pulled out, and left Garbine Muguruza without a partner. This meant a walkover for Czechs Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka.

Mergea said he wanted to save his energy for the men’s doubles final. He and Horia Tecau had beaten Jack Sock and Steven Johnson of the US earlier in the day. And, Nadal does not want to push his ‘injurious’ luck either.

India’s Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna defeated Australia’s Samantha Stosur and John Peers. Windy and chilly, the temperature was around 21 degrees celsius when Sania and Bopanna set fire to the court. They will play Andy Murray and Heather Watson on Friday. The Sania-Bopanna match saw Leander Paes in attendance for the entire time, along with Vijay Goel, Union sports minister.

After Thursday's rain, the weather in Rio has changed dramatically. The peaks ringing the city are shrouded in clouds and the wind is quite nippy, except at high noon. The joke on the metro was that the beach volley girls might have to borrow burkinis from their more conservative rivals.

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