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Murray advances to final to defend London gold

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2016 Rio Olympics - Tennis - Semifinal - Men's Singles Semifinals - Olympic Tennis Centre - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 13/08/2016. Andy Murray (GBR) of Britain celebrates after winning match against Kei Nishikori (JPN) of Japan. REUTERS/Toby Melville
2016 Rio Olympics - Tennis - Semifinal - Men's Singles Semifinals - Olympic Tennis Centre - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 13/08/2016. Andy Murray (GBR) of Britain celebrates after winning match against Kei Nishikori (JPN) of Japan. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By Joshua Schneyer

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Britain's Andy Murray advanced to the men's Olympic final with a straight sets victory over Japan's Kei Nishikori on Saturday, securing a chance to defend his title and become the first player to win back-to-back singles golds at the Games.

In a commanding performance, the Wimbledon champion and number two ranked player broke Nishikori's serve early on, breezing through the first set 6-1. After another service break early in the second set, Murray closed out the match 6-1 6-4.

Though Nishikori's speed allowed him to punch back against Murray's blazing ground strokes, the Japanese player was plagued by too many unforced errors and could not break Murray's serve.

In Sunday's gold medal match, the 29-year-old Briton will face either Spain's Rafa Nadal or Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro, who play later on Saturday.

Murray won gold at the 2012 London Games where he defeated Switzerland's Roger Federer in the final.

But the Briton will have his work cut out for him on Sunday. Del Potro, the bronze medallist in London, has drawn energy from boisterous crowds of fans from neighbouring Argentina at the Games. He pulled off an upset by defeating world number one Novak Djokovic in the first round in Rio.

Nadal, who has been beset by a wrist injury, also appears to have returned to form. He claimed a gold medal for Spain in men's doubles with partner Marc Lopez on Friday.

If Nadal makes the final he will have a chance to become the first player since 1924 to win a gold medal in both men's singles and doubles at a Games.

(Reporting by Joshua Schneyer; Editing by Alison Williams)


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