The Olympics have been the setting for some of tennis’ most magical moments over the last few decades, and for one of the biggest names in the game, the 2008 Beijing Olympics was one of those settings.
Fresh off winning Wimbledon for the first time with an epic 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7 win over No. 1 Roger Federer in the final, a No. 2-ranked Nadal headed to Beijing on a high, and he never came down—he went all the way to the gold medal, beating No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, and then surprise finalist Fernando Gonzalez in the gold medal match, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3.
Not only did the Spaniard have his first Olympic gold, but after spending a record 160 straight weeks at No. 2, the win pushed him past Federer to No. 1 on the ATP rankings for the first time afterwards on August 18, 2008.
“I may be No. 1, but I played well last year, too,” he would say afterwards.
“I was very happy being No. 2. Probably, I’ll be some time again.”
Having already won Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Nadal would then capture his first Australian Open in 2009 and his first US Open in 2010 to become one of only two men to complete a Golden Slam, alongside Andre Agassi, who completed his at 1999 Roland Garros, having won his gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.