Juan Martin del Potro has missed most of the past two years due to injuries. The Rio Olympics have marked an incredible comeback for the Argentine, with him defeating world #1 Novak Djokovic and, now, Rafael Nadal in a 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) semi-final thriller today.
In front of a riled-up crowd that required multiple admonishings for its behavior—this is a tennis match, not football, the umpire barked—del Potro surrendered the first set only to win the second, then hold off an inspired Nadal to win the third set tiebreak.
Nadal, for his part, managed to seize the crowd from del Potro—who has spent most of this Olympic tournament as a rightful fan favorite. But winning public favor is only a moral victory for the world’s fourth-ranked player, who lost to del Potro in a major tournament for the first time in seven years.
Del Potro will face Andy Murray in the final. Murray, who just won Wimbledon, is playing the best tennis of anyone on Earth right now; he defeated Kei Nishikori by straight sets in the other semi-final.