Nadal one win from gold

Spaniard to face Gonzalez in Olympic final

Last Updated: 16/08/08 10:08am

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Nadal celebrates victory

Nadal celebrates victory

Rafael Nadal required three sets to overcome the challenge of Novak Djokovic in the semi-final of the Beijing Olympics.

"Fernando looked me square in the eye and didn't call it."
James Blake Quotes of the week

Nadal won 6-4 1-6 6-4 in two hours and 10 minutes and will face Fernando Gonzalez in Sunday's gold medal match after the Chilean saw off James Blake in the other semi-final.

The Spaniard, seeded second, claimed two early breaks on his way to taking the opening set 6-4.

And although third seed Djokovic hit back to race through the second set and level the match, it was Nadal who looked stronger once the deciding set got under way.

The left-hander sealed the result by breaking when Djokovic was serving at 4-5 to stay in the match.

Earlier on Friday, Gonzalez booked his spot in the final with an epic three-set triumph over Blake.

The 28-year-old, who took singles bronze and doubles gold in Athens four years ago, prevailed 4-6 7-5 11-9.

Blake, appearing at his first Olympics, wasted three match points after leading 40-0 on Gonzalez's serve at 5-6 in the decider.

But the 12th seed hit four consecutive winners to escape from that jam and went on subdue his American opponent in two hours and 51 minutes.

Controversy

Afterwards, Blake expressed his displeasure over an umpiring call when he led 9-8 in the decider.

The New Yorker hit a forehand towards Gonzalez at the net - the ball landed out but Blake was convinced it touched his opponent's racket.

"Playing in the Olympics, in what's supposed to be considered a gentleman's sport, that's a time to call it on yourself," Blake said.

"Fernando looked me square in the eye and didn't call it. If it had happened the other way, I never would have finished the match because my father would have pulled me off the court.

"We know when it touches us. And he knew that. So that's where it comes into calling it on yourself. Should I expect him to do that? Maybe not.

"It's a disappointing way to exit the tournament when you not only lose the match, but you lose a little faith in your fellow competitor."

Jankovic beaten

Meanwhile, sixth seed Dinara Safina completed the women's semi-final line-up by dispatching Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in three sets.

Safina battled to a 6-2 5-7 6-3 lead over her second seeded opponent and will play home favourite Li Na in the last four.

The other semi-final is an all-Russian affair between Vera Zvonareva and Elena Dementieva.

In the men's doubles, Federer bounced back from his singles disappointment to reach the final in partnership with Stanislas Wawrinka.

The Swiss pair produced an impressive display to see off India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes 6-2 6-4 in their quarter-final and then returned to the court in the evening to beat top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan of the United States 6-2 6-4.

Federer, who will be deposed as world number one by Nadal next week, had crashed out of the singles to Blake at the quarter-final stage on Thursday.

Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson await in the final after the Swedish duo beat Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra of France in the longest three-set men's match in Olympic history.

The eventual scoreline of 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 19-17 took four hours and 46 minutes and added up to 59 games plus a tie-break.

Sister acts were the order of the day in the women's doubles quarter-finals with wins for Venus and Serena Williams, as well as Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko.

Both Williams lost in the singles on Thursday but put that behind them to combine for a 6-4 6-0 win over Russians Elena Vesnina and Zvonareva.

And they will play the Bondarenkos in the last four after the Ukrainian siblings notched a 6-1 3-6 7-5 success over Italians Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone.

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