Tennis: Murray, Nadal both squeak into semi-finals

Fri Aug 12, 2016 6:35pm EDT
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By Joshua Schneyer

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - London Olympic champion Andy Murray reached the semi-finals of the men's tennis on Friday after winning a third-set tie-break to scrape through a testing encounter against American Steve Johnson.

Spain's Rafa Nadal also secured a spot in the semi-finals with a hard fought victory against local favorite Thomaz Belucci of Brazil, rallying back after losing the first set.

Britain's Murray, the world number two, edged into the last four with a 6-0 4-6 7-6(2) victory but was pushed to the limit by the 22nd-ranked Johnson.

The players traded service breaks and blazing passing shots in the final set but Murray showed steady nerves to win the tie-break, closing out the match with a deftly placed overhead smash.

"It was a very tough match and I just managed to turn it around in the end," Murray told reporters. "For me it has nothing to do with having won the gold in London. For me it's about trying to win more medals for the country and the team."

Murray will face Japan's Kei Nishikori who edged out France's Gael Monfils 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(6) in a tense third set tie-break after facing repeated match points.

Nadal, ranked fifth in the world, was tested by No. 54-ranked Belucci in a center court stadium filled with passionate Brazilian fans, but found his rhythm in the final two sets, to clinch the 2-6 6-4 6-2 victory.

"The atmosphere was tough, but at the same time I enjoy it," Nadal told reporters. "I managed to come back in some tough situations."   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Tennis - Quarterfinal - Men's Singles Quarterfinals - Olympic Tennis Centre - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Andy Murray (GBR) of Britain celebrates after winning his match against Steve Johnson (USA) of USA.  REUTERS/Toby Melville