Gonzalez confident of challenging Nadal

August 16th, 2008 - 11:17 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Rafael Nadal

Beijing, Aug 16 (IANS) Rafael Nadal couldn’t ask for more. The Spaniard, who has had a phenomenal season so far, is just one match away from crowning himself with Olympic glory when he meets Athens bronze medallist Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in the final Sunday. The second-seeded, Nadal who Monday will become the 24th player to rank No.1 in ATP Rankings, but more importantly will unseat Roger Federer from the throne, overcame a scrappy start to beat World No. 3 Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in two hours and 10 minutes at the Olympic Green Tennis Centre Friday.

With at least a silver assured, Nadal will strive to get the first gold in tennis for his country Sunday. Spain, so far, has won nine medals in tennis but is yet to win a gold.

Meanwhile, world no.15 Gonzalez, who entered the final after saving three match points in his 4-6, 7-5, 11-9 victory over American James Blake, will be looking to win his 11th career title Sunday. Blake had knocked out top seeded Federer in a lopsided contest.

The Chilean is far from being inhibited by Spaniard’s recent exploits and is even fancying his chances.

“I am at my best,” said the man who won two Olympic medals at Athens in 2004. Besides the singles bronze, Gonzalez won the doubles gold with Nicolas Massu.

“Nadal is currently the best player, but I am playing well too, this is my best time. I am ready to do what I have to do,” the South American said.

“Nadal and I have had some great games.”

Gonzalez, who carried the Chilean flag in the opening ceremony, Sunday will win his country’s first medal at Beijing.

The duo met on six occasions with Gonzalez winning their two hard-court clashes at 2004 ATP Masters Series Miami and the 2007 Australian Open.

Needless to say, who will be the favourite to win the match? Nadal with his current form looks unbeatable. But then sports is known to be a geat leveller. Who knows, Sunday could be Gonzalez’s day.

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