Can Nadal and Nishikori prevent a Del Potro v Murray final?
What a day it promises to be at the Rio Olympics!
In the men’s singles semi-finals, Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori of Japan will go all out to stop Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Murray from progressing to the final of the men’s singles.
Meanwhile Angelique Kerber will be favourite for the gold medal when she takes on the sensational Monica Puig, who earned at least a silver by defeating Petra Kvitova.
Despite scraping through somewhat unconvincingly against the talented American Steve Johnson, we predict that Murray will raise his game just enough to edge out Nishikori in their semi-final.
Meanwhile Nadal, already a gold medallist in the doubles, will have his work cut out against the resurgent Del Potro.
It is brilliant to see Rafa back to something like his best. But the big man from Argentina has been so impressive of late that he might just have too much for Nadal on the day, if his fitness holds up.
All three of today’s big matches are tough to predict and could go either way. Puig is playing with such fire and precision that the first female Olympic medal winner from Puerto Rico will feel she has nothing to lose against Kerber.
But the German is the reigning Australian Open champion and was a well-deserved finalist at Wimbledon. She has had such a great year that she should show enough big-match experience to get the job done.
Winning is becoming a habit for Kerber, who saw off Madison Keys in a cracker the previous day.
If Angelique doesn’t manage to take the title, however, it will make for an amazing surprise and a thrilling climax to the women’s singles at the Olympics.
Practically no one would have picked Puig for the podium a week ago. That’s another reason why women’s tennis has become such an unknown quantity and a fascinating watch of late.
Murray might well have gone out against Johnson in the quarters. An approach shot from the Scot clipped the net when Johnson led 30-0 and 4-3 in the final set. Had Andy’s shot failed to clear that net, it would have been hard for him to come back.
The burden of having carried the GB flag seems to be weighing heavily on Murray’s shoulders. Yet his record against Nishikori is consistently good and that’s why he might just find what it takes.
Del Potro against Nadal will be a bruising sizzler of a match. And Rafa’s millions of fans will be celebrating if he manages to take down the giant South American.
Will Del Potro, recently returned to the big time, finally run out of steam? He reduced poor Novak Djokovic to tears with his brilliance earlier in the Olympic tournament, albeit aided somewhat by Novak’s nagging wrist injury.
Don’t be too surprised if it’s a Murray v Del Potro final, though you never can tell in this crazy, wonderful sport of ours.
Let the action begin. Whichever way these beautifully balanced match-ups go, it should be a day to remember!