After a tough 2015 season that almost kicked him out from the top-10 for the first time in a decade, Rafael Nadal struggled to deal with the rivals from the very top in 2016 as well, winning two titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and just 39 matches overall, for the worst number since 2004!
A wrist injury forced Rafa to withdraw from Roland Garros before the third-round match against Marcel Granollers. He was sidelined until the second week of August and the Olympic Games in Rio, ready to give his 120% to fight for a medal.
Nadal reached the semi-final in singles with a favorable draw but couldn't take a medal for Spain. Rafa lost an excellent semi-final encounter against Juan Martin del Potro in the deciding tie break after three hours and eight minutes before another tough loss to Kei Nishikori in a battle for the bronze medal.
The 2008 Beijing singles gold medalist still found a way to leave Brazil in glory, winning the doubles gold medal with his great friend Marc Lopez. Between 2009-2011, the pair had won a couple of Doha and Indian Wells titles, and they were the sixth seeds in Rio, hoping for some old magic and a chance to win a medal.
They defeated Jean-Julien Rojer and Robin Haase in the opening round before ousting Juan Martin del Potro and Maximo Gonzalez to reach the quarters.
Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez claimed the 2016 Rio Olympics doubles gold medal.
Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya stood no chance against the Spanish pair that scored a 6-3, 6-1 to advance into the semis, where they met Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil.
In a super tight encounter, Rafa and Marc prevailed in two tie breaks to secure the medal and set up the gold medal clash against the Romanians Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau. After a great battle, Nadal and Lopez prevailed 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 with a late break in the encounter's last game for a massive celebration and emotional reactions to one of the most significant career wins for both.
Rafael Nadal will try to win another Olympic medal this summer in Tokyo. "It was an amazing experience, especially after achieving that with one of my best friends Marc; it was something unforgettable for both of us. To win a gold medal after two and a half months with no practice, with no preparation at all, just working in the gym, was a dream come true.
The moment was unbelievable, and we had a lot of fun. We fought hard, and we were thrilled when everything was over," Rafael Nadal said. "Sharing such feelings with Rafa, being together at the Olympic village, was really a dream come true. I was the happiest man on the planet," Marc Lopez said.