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2ND LEAD Murray, Nadal squeeze into Olympic semifinals By Kristina Puck and Isaac Risco

Europe
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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 Japanese player Kei Nishikori in his semi-final match on Saturday.

"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.

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 Argentina‘s Juan Martin del Potro, who has ousted top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia in Rio.

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

Puig, ranked 37th in the world, 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 that 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 Germany‘s Angelique Kerber.

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