Men’s Singles on Thursday in Rio:
Big guns Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal booked their places in the Quarter-Finals of the Rio Olympic Singles Event with wins over Frenchman Gilles Simon and Fabio Fognini (Italy) respectively.
Nadal navigates Simon after a nervous start
In an ugly first set that contained four breaks of serve, Nadal was pushed to a first set tiebreak and led 5-1 before a string of errors allowed Simon back into contending for the spoils of the opening stanza. Nadal focused and won the next two points to give himself the luxury of a one set buffer.
Nadal started the second set well, cruising to a 4-0 lead before Simon responded by winning 3 of the next 4 games. However, the Frenchman was to capitulate once he brought himself within range. Nadal broke again in the next game and then served out the match to ensure his place in the semi-finals.
“My wrist is not perfect. My wrist needs more time,” Nadal said earlier in the week. “If it was a standard tournament on the circuit, I wouldn’t be here. My wrist is not 100 percent.”
Nadal has since withdrawn from the mixed doubles as the fixtures piled up and he chases medals in the Men’s singles and doubles events.
Murray pushed to 3 sets buts gets the job done
Britain’s Andy Murray got off to a flying start in his match with Italian enigma Fabio Fognini . The defending champion raced out to take the first 6-1 in comprehensive fashion but then unravelled during the second set to let his Italian rival win eight games in a row to swallow up the second set 6-2 and lead early in the deciding frame.
Under pressure, Murray managed to turn things around and the momentum shifted sharply with the Scot then reeling off six successive games to book his place in the last 8.
“It was really, really hard out there and difficult to appreciate unless you were actually out there playing,” stated Murray after the match.
“Sometimes the conditions don’t allow for you to play really well and the conditions didn’t allow that today.”
Monfils, Nishikori and Del Potro find a way to the Quarter Finals
Gael Monfils (France) overcame Croatia’s Marin Cilic in one of the harder matches to call.The charismatic Frenchman took the match in three hard fought sets, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the Olympic Quarter Finals for the second time in his career. He is the last French representative remaining in the draw.
Kei Nishikori of Japan issued a comprehensive drubbing to Slovakia’s Andrej Martin 6-2, 6-2 to advance to his second quarterfinal at the Olympics.
Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro ended Japan’s Taro Daniel Olympic dream. Daniel had taken some notable scalps already and took the first set against Del Potro before the big-hitting Argentine ramped up the gears to dominate the last two sets.
Del Potro would be a popular choice for a medal considering the injury problems that he has dealt with over the last few years.
In the other matches of the day, local hope Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil showcased his talent once again with a minor upset of Belgian David Goffin 7-6(10) 6-4 including a mammoth first set tiebreaker.
Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut prevailed over big server Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) 6-4 7-6(6) and America’s Steve Johnson kept the hopes of Uncle Sam alive with a double bagel drubbing of Russian Evgeny Donskoy.
Rafael Nadal (ESP)  bt Gilles Simon (FRA)  7-6(5) 6-3
Andy Murray (GBR)  bt Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-1 2-6 6-3
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) bt David Goffin (BEL)  7-6(10) 6-4
Gael Monfils (FRA)  bt Marin Cilic (CRO)  6-7(6) 6-3 6-4
Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) bt Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-7(4) 6-1 6-2
Kei Nishikori (JPN)  bt Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-2 6-2
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)  bt Gilles Muller (LUX) 6-4 7-6(6)
Steve Johnson (USA)  bt Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 6-1 6-1