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1ST LEAD Murray, Nadal squeeze into Olympic semifinals By Kristina Puck and Isaac Risco

Europe
Von unserem dpa-Korrespondenten und Europe Online   auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Britain‘s Andy Murray and Spain‘s Rafael Nadal clawed their way into the Rio de Janeiro semi-finals on Friday, keeping alive their hope of winning a second Olympic gold medal.

Wimbledon champion Murray only managed to overpower US player Steve Johnson in the tiebreak of the third set with a 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2) win.

The world number two Murray will face off with Gael Monfils of France or Kei Nishikori in his semi-final match.

"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 said afterwards.

No tennis player has won men‘s singles gold in two straight Olympics.

Nadal, who won 2008 in Beijing, beat Brazil‘s Thomaz Bellucci 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Friday.

After having lost the first set against Belluci, the Spanish nine-time French Open champion turned around the match despite the home crowd‘s excited support for their native underdog.

In the semi, Nadal will face fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut or Argentina‘s Juan Martin del Potro, who ousted top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia in Rio.

Puerto Rican tennis player Monica Puig achieved the day‘s most noteable upset when she beat Czech world number 14 Petra Kvitova 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to advance to the Olympic final.

The Puerto Rican world‘s number 37 is assured at least a silver medal - the first Olympic tennis medal for her country, and the first Olympic medal for a Puerto Rican woman.

"I had to be really positive and be as aggressive as I could, and I think that worked. I just can‘t believe where I am right now," Puig said.

In her match against double Wimbledon champion Kvitova, Puig lost her serve at the start of the contest and was behind 3-0. But she rallied to win the opening set 6-4 after 36 minutes.

Kvitova returned to form in the second set, taking the score to 6-1 in 35 minutes.

But the Puerto Rican hit back in the final set. After a battle for the eighth game which won over the Brazilian fans for Puig, the Puerto Rican sealed her victory after one hour and 53 minutes.

Puig, who jumped with excitement upon her victory, will play for gold Saturday against the winner of the match between Germany‘s Angelique Kerber and US player Madison Keys.

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