Roundup: Upset over Nadal puts del Potro in tennis final vs. Murray

Detroit News wire services
Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina celebrates defeating Spain's Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the men's singles tennis competition Saturday.

Juan Martin del Potro ended Rafael Nadal’s bid for an unprecedented second Olympic singles gold medal in a thrill-a-minute semifinal, then celebrated as if the title were already his, kneeling to kiss the court before leaping into the stands.

Del Potro, who earned a bronze for Argentina four years ago, will add a silver or gold to that after advancing to the Rio de Janeiro Games final by coming back to stun 2008 champion Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in more than 3 hours Saturday.

“Both of us,” Nadal said, “played a very high level.”

Using the same ferocious forehands that carried him past No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round a week ago, 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro now will try to pull off a third surprise on Sunday, when he meets defending champion Andy Murray in the best-of-five-set final.

“It means something very, very big in my career. It would be the same as the U.S. Open. Maybe even better,” said del Potro, who’s fallen to 141st in the rankings after three operations on his left wrist, which he uses for a two-handed backhand.

“I didn’t expect to reach the final, beating Djokovic and Rafa,” del Potro said, “but I did, and I get a medal, and it’s amazing for me.”

The No. 2-seeded Murray earned a gold in singles and a silver in mixed doubles for Britain at the 2012 London Games.

“He’s the favorite for sure,” del Potro said. “Hopefully, I can run like I did today.”

No tennis player has won two Olympic singles golds, let alone two in a row, as Murray is attempting to achieve.

“It would mean a lot, obviously,” Murray said after beating fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-1, 6-4 to stretch his winning streak to a career-high-tying 17 matches. “It’s obviously not an easy thing to do. That’s why it’s not been done before.”

Britain's Mo Farah wins the gold in the men's 10,000-meter final.

Track

Fall doesn't trip up Farah in 10,000 meters

Not even a tumble could stop Mo Farah from defending his Olympic 10,000-meter title in a dramatic final where he worked his way back through the field, then lost and regained the lead on the last lap.

Just like he did four years ago in London, the Somali-born Farah draped the British flag over his shoulders for his victory lap.

The Olympic and world champion in the 5,000 and 10,000 tripped and fell to the track after tangling with another runner with 15 laps to go.

He worked his way back up to third with 11 laps to go and was first going into the bell lap, but Paul Tanui of Kenya made a charge with 300 to go and led until Farah surged again and sprinted away to win in 27 minutes, 5.17 seconds. Tanui held on for silver in 27:05.64 and Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia took bronze.

... Elaine Thompson won the women’s 100-meter title in 10.71 seconds, ending fellow Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s bid to win the event for a third straight Olympics. American Tori Bowie took silver.

Men's soccer

Mikel punches Nigeria's ticket to semifinals

Captain John Obi Mikel scored one and set up another as Nigeria beat Denmark 2-0 to set up a men’s Olympic soccer semifinal with Germany.

Mikel met Ezekiel’s cross to side-foot Nigeria’s opener into the net from close range in the 19th minute on Saturday. Aminu Umar connected with Mikel’s corner to double the lead in the 59th.

Nigeria’s players, who are chasing their first Olympic gold since the 1996 Atlanta Games, have extended their stay in Brazil after arriving late in the country. They will play Germany on Wednesday.

Golf

Ryder partners turn into Rio rivals

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson know what it’s like to play next to each other on a big stage when it’s all about flag and the gold prize.

That was two years ago at the Ryder Cup, and they were undefeated as partners. They will be rivals Sunday, playing under their own flag, each pursuing golf’s first Olympic gold medal since 1904.

Rose made two eagles in the opening five holes Saturday and did a little shimmy after making a 10-foot par putt at the end for a 6-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead over Stenson going into the final round — the medal round — at Olympic Golf Course.

After 112 years away, and three days of what amounted to preliminary heats, golf finally gets the feel of being in the Olympics when medals are awarded.

Rose was at 12-under 201, a slim margin over Stenson in any circumstances, even more considering the Swede is a month away from his some of the best golf ever played when he won the British Open at Royal Troon with the lowest 72-hole score in major championship history.

Stenson had another 68, his best moment with a wedge in his hand — but not for a shot he hit.

Walking along the edge of the water on the par-5 10th hole, Stenson spotted a caiman — a small crocodile in these parts — and reached over to poke it with the end of his golf club. He wound up making birdie on that hole, and two birdies later on the back nine kept him within range of Rose.

It’s not a two-man race, even if it felt like one.

Marcus Fraser, the leader after the first two rounds, hit into a bunker on four straight holes early on and wound up with only one birdie in his round of 72. He was still alone in third place, though he was four shots behind and his lack of length could be factor in trying to keep pace with Rose and Stenson.