RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 13, 2016 (AFP) – Argentina s Juan Martin del Potro will tackle defending champion Andy Murray for Olympic gold Sunday, insisting that his magical Rio run tops his lone Grand Slam triumph at the 2009 US Open.
The 27-year-old was on the brink of retiring last year after undergoing a third wrist operation in five years and seeing his ranking drop from four in the world to its current 141.
But the 1.98m (6ft 6ins) giant has been rejuvenated in Rio beating world number one Novak Djokovic in the first round before seeing off 2008 Olympic champion Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 7-6, (7/5) in an epic three-hour semi-final on Saturday.
“It means a lot to me. It s very big, maybe even more special than when I won the US Open,” said del Potro, who was mobbed by Argentine fans at the end of the semi-final.
“I didn t expect to get to the final; I didn t expect to beat Djokovic. It s just amazing for me.
“I am living a dream and the crowd make me cry after every match.”
Del Potro, a bronze medal winner at the 2012 London Olympics, trails Murray 5-2 in career meetings with his last win coming three years ago.
“Andy is the favourite, for sure. I am glad with my success so far. I just need to try and be in good shape for the final,” he said.
Second seed Murray reached his second successive Olympic final with a ruthless 6-1, 6-4 demolition of Japan s Kei Nishikori.
He insisted he s ready to conquer the challenge of becoming the first player to win back-to-back golds.
“It would mean a lot to me. It s not easy, that s why it s never been done before, but I will go out there and give it my best,” said the 29-year-old world number two.
“I am guaranteed a medal already but the goal is to win gold and I ll do all I can to do it.”