The year 2008 was very special in Rafael Nadal’s career. He won the Wimbledon that year along with defending his title at Roland Garros. Nadal also got to the top of the ATP rankings for the first time that year. The great Spaniard would finish the year as the World Number 1 in Men’s singles. This year his biggest achievement was the first of Rafael Nadal’s 2 Olympic Golds. Yes, Rafa also won the Gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He thus added a great feather to his resume along with bringing glory to his country.
The former World Number 1 also repeated the Golden feat in 2016. This time he won the doubles Gold medal along with fellow countryman Marc Lopez. We rewind back to look at both the tournaments where Rafa touched Gold.
2008 Olympics: The Early Progress
The story of the first of Rafael Nadal’s 2 Olympic Golds describes his brilliance. Nadal was seeded 2nd in the tournament. In this first match he faced Potito Starace of Italy. The match went to 3 sets but Nadal came out victorious winning the 1st and 3rd set. Rafa then faced Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the 2nd match. It was supposed to be a tough contest on paper but it proved opposite on court. The Spaniard would dominate his Australian rival winning the match in 2 sets and just losing three games in the process. Nadal was looking in devastating touch.
Rafa continued his onslaught by beating Igor Andreev of Russia in the 3rd match. This was also done in straight sets and fairly comfortable manner. In the quarter-final round match the 2nd seed handed his opponent Jürgen Melzer of Austria and first set bagel and straight set defeat. He was now in the deciding part of the event with just 2 matches separating his from the first of Rafael Nadal’s 2 Olympic Golds.
First of Rafael Nadal’s 2 Olympic Golds
He was just a few set wins away from what could be first of Rafael Nadal’s 2 Olympic Golds. With the top seed Roger Federer already out in the quarter-final stage, Rafa faced his most formidable opponent in the semis. Third seeded Novak Djokovic was also looking like a man with a mission. The two greats collided for a place in the final. The match would be hard fought. Nadal won the 1st set but a determined Djokovic came back in the 2nd to win it and level the match. In the 3rd set both players matched each other inch by inch.
However, the Spaniard narrowly raced ahead to win it 6-4. Novak appeared devastated and one could see agony and ecstasy on the opposite sides of the tennis court that day.
The tournament decider was going to be played as best of 5. Nadal’s opponent was Fernando González of Chile. He had earlier played another epic semi-final against James Blake of America. Nadal however proved to be too good an opponent for González on that day. The man from Mallorca wrapped that match in 3 straight sets. The 2008 Roland Garros and Wimbledon champ was also now the Olympic Gold medalist. Everything Nadal touched would turn Gold that year. Isn’t it incredible journey to the first of Rafael Nadal’s 2 Olympic Golds?
2016 Olympics: A Repeat Of The Feat
The story of the second of Rafael Nadal’s 2 Olympic Golds describes his legend. In 2016, 8 years after his singles Gold medal, Rafa won another Olympic Gold for Spain. This time however he did so in doubles with his long time friend and the playing partner Marc Lopez.
The two were seeded 6th in the doubles draw. They beat the Dutch pair of Robin Haase and Jean Rojer in the 1st round. Nadal and Lopez would then beat Argentine pair of Juan Martín del Potro and Máximo González in 3 tight sets. They were now in the quarter-final stage.
Nadal and Lopez would then beat Austrian duo of Alexander Peya and Oliver Marach in straight sets. The semis would prove a tight contest between the Spanish duo and Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil. The match went to 2 tie break sets with the Spaniards winning both.
In the tournament decider they faced Romania’s Florin Mergea and Horia Tecău. The match lasted 3 sets with Nadal and Lopez winning the 1st and 3rd. They had now conquered the final step and thus won the Gold medal for their home nation. Rafa had added a doubles Gold to his earlier singles achievement of 2008. Second of the two was Doubles in Rafael Nadal’s 2 Olympic Golds.