But in the end, despite the fact that Nole was stronger in the second and third sets, Rafa would not be denied. Who can explain that botched overhead on match point to give Rafa the match? Was an easy overhead? Absolutely. But you factor in an off the charts retriever on the other side of the net, match point, the semifinals of the Olympics, and a young 21 year old with a small country literally on his back, and it becomes an extremely nervy one. I can't fault Novak for missing it. I also can't blame him for leaving the court in tears.
That's the Olympics, folks. That's why tennis should be there. Have we ever seen Nole cry after losing big matches? Nope. This one obviously meant more to him than any other match he played. He's absolutely gutted. To lose that big of a match like that? I don't know how he's going to recover for tomorrow's bronze medal match.
And as a quick sidenote, on a day that saw some questionable sportsmanship in the other semifinal, I was particularly impressed with Nole's hug of Rafa after the match. He could have just shaken his hand and walked off the court. But the embrace, in light of how he was feeling, was touching and sporting.
UPDATED: Pics of the hug. Heartbreaking.