Great Britain's Andy Murray also progresses to the quarter-finals after a victory against Italian Fabio Fognini
Rafael Nadal continues his march towards a second Olympic tennis title for Spain, with a win on centre court this Thursday (11 August) against Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the third round of the tennis tournament at Rio 2016.
For Nadal, his third round win means he will face Thomaz Bellucci in the quarter-finals, after the Brazilian defeated David Goffin of Belgium on Thursday afternoon. Before Nadal can begin to think about this match, the world no.5 has a busy evening of play ahead. First, he has the men’s doubles semi-final alongside Marc Lopez, before a mixed doubles first round match alongside Garbine Muguruza.
"Right now I’m very happy to have won in singles,” Nadal said. “Now comes the most important match of the day for us, which is the doubles, where we are closer to a medal. We will fight to the death for it.”
Brazil on the march
On court 1, Thomaz Bellucci roused once again by home crowd support, overturned Belgian David Goffin 7-6, 6-4. In reaching the quarter-finals he equals Brazil tennis legend Gustavo Kuerten’s best Olympic campaign.
"Guga is incomparable,” the Brazilian said. “It’s hard to compare to what he did internationally. I see it as a personal goal, something that I’ve achieved, a great week.
Tennis schedule and results - Rio 2016
“Now my goal is to go back for the next match and give my best. Of course I’m happy with what I’ve done, but I believe I can go further. I don’t want to stop here. I’m not satisfied yet."
If he is to go one better than Kuerten, he will have to of course overcome a determined Nadal, who will be considered favourite to progress to the semi-finals. But with the Brazilian crowd behind him, Bellucci will go into this match with some momentum and is a capable of another upset.
"It’s going to be a very tough match,” he said. “Rafa, of course, is the favourite. He’s a great player and has been performing great at the Olympic Games. He’s won three tough matches with some ease.
“I’m also having a good tournament, playing very well. The crowd is supporting me a lot, so it’s going to be a very special match and I hope it is going to be a great one.”
In the other men's singles match on centre court, Andy Murray survived a scare coming back from 3-0 down in the third set to beat Italian Fabio Fognini 6-1 2-6 6-3.
Like Rafa Nadal, the Brit is hoping to become the first tennis player to win a second singles Olympic gold medal after being crowned champion at London 2012.