Rafael Nadal is playing for the first time in more than two months, but he’s quickly become one of the favorites in men’s singles tennis at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He’ll take on Italy’s Andreas Seppi in the second round on Tuesday.
Nadal had no trouble in the first round, defeating Argentina’s Frederico Delbonis 6-2, 6-1. He didn’t seem to be affected by the wrist injury that forced him to withdraw from the French Open in May, though he conceded that his "wrist is not perfect."
Nadal entered the Olympics as the No.3 seed. World No.2 Andy Murray is the highest-ranked player left in the tournament after Serbia’s Novak Djokovic was on the wrong end of a stunning first-round upset. The world’s No.1 player lost in straight sets to Juan Martin del Potro, leaving Nadal and Murray as the top competitors battling for gold.
Eight years ago, Nadal won gold in men’s singles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Murray won gold four years ago and Roger Federer was the runner-up. Federer skipped Rio and won't compete for the rest of 2016.
Nadal is also looking to win gold in men’s doubles. He’s helped Spain move past the first two rounds, while both Murray and Djokovic were ousted. Andy Murray and his brother Jamie Murray of Great Britain suffered a first-round straight-set loss to Brazil. In the next round, Djokovic was unable to carry Serbia past Brazil’s Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares.
Before pulling out of the third round at Roland Garros, Nadal lost to Djokovic in the third round in Rome three months ago. In the tournament prior, he lost to Andy Murray in the semifinals of the Madrid Open. Nadal's last win came in Barcelona in April when he defeated Kei Nishikori in the finals.
Nadal gets back on the court for singles action on Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. ET. If he beats Seppi, he’ll take on the winner of the match between Japan’s Yuichi Sugita and France’s Gilles Simon in the third round.
TV Channel: Bravo
Online Stream: NBCOlympics.com
Prediction: Nadal in straight sets