RIO DE JANEIRO- Rafael Nadal added a second Olympic tennis gold medal to all of those Grand Slam trophies, teaming with Marc Lopez to win the men’s doubles championship for Spain at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
Nadal and Lopez came back from a break down in the third set and claimed the last three games to beat Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau of Romania 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in the final Friday.
Nadal, a 14-time champion at major tournaments, also won an Olympic title in singles at the 2008 Beijing Games. This is the first medal for Lopez.
The silver for Mergea and Tecau is the first tennis medal for Romania in Olympic history.
The bronze went to Steve Johnson and Jack Sock of the United States. They beat the Canadian team of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-4 earlier Friday.
Sock and Pospisil won the Wimbledon doubles championship together in 2014.
It was another busy day for Nadal, who won his singles quarterfinal in three sets earlier Friday.
Nadal does not play doubles often on tour, focusing on a singles career that has included stints at No. 1 in the rankings and a record nine French Open titles. Of his nine previous doubles championships, four came with Lopez as his partner, although they hadn’t played even one match together this year until arriving in Brazil.
Lopez won his first Grand Slam doubles title at the French Open in June, pairing with Feliciano Lopez – they’re not related – to beat American twins Bob and Mike Bryan in that final.
On Friday, the Romanians appeared to get the upper hand when they broke Marc Lopez to lead 4-3 in the final set. Lopez double-faulted to love-40, then hit a mediocre lob. Tecau’s overhead was netted by Nadal.
But in the very next game, with Tecau serving, the Spanish duo broke right back. Mergea sailed a forehand long to set up a break point, then put a volley into the net, making it 4-all.
After Nadal held for a 5-4 edge, the Spaniards broke again, converting their third match point when Mergea sent an overhead long.
Nadal and Lopez, both near the baseline, dropped their rackets and fell to the court, staying down for a few moments to enjoy the victory.
After the winners got up and shook hands with their opponents and the chair umpire, Nadal pulled Lopez in for a big hug.
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