NEWS
08/11/2016 15:32 EDT | Updated 08/12/2017 01:12 EDT

Nestor's gold-medal dream over after Canada's doubles loss to Spain

RIO DE JANEIRO — When Daniel Nestor reached up to shake the chair umpire's hand, the deep scowl etched on his 43-year-old face spoke of an opportunity lost. 

Nestor's chance at a second gold medal in his sixth, and surely last, Olympic appearance came to an end Thursday, when he and partner Vasek Pospisil lost their semifinal match to Spain's Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4).

The Canadian duo will play Americans Jack Sock and Steve Johnson for bronze on Friday.

But Nestor wanted better. And moments after he had quietly let the umpire know exactly what he thought of two controversial line calls, the Canadian doubles tennis legend was still quietly fuming.

"I said it was ridiculous, a disgrace," Nestor said, when asked what he'd said to the umpire. "(I said) do me a favour and come back to me tomorrow and tell me what you think of those calls. Everyone makes mistakes, but that badly? I don't know."

The big issue was the fact the game was held on a small side-court, so officials didn't have the benefit of Hawk-Eye technology that determines whether a shot is in or out. Players are left at the mercy of the human eye, alone.

"I've played for a long time and I haven't seen calls missed that badly," said Nestor, who made his first Davis Cup team — incredibly — way back in 1992. "The first one in the first set was a very important point, if we go up 4-1 and consolidate that break, then we've got a lot of momentum considering we're creating opportunities on their serve a lot.

Nestor exchanged heated words with the umpire after both calls, especially after the official ruled a shot was out that the veteran insisted was in, angrily pointing to a mark on the court.

"The second set, it wasn't necessarily the reason why we lost, but I just don't understand how you can miss a call like that so it makes me wonder what's going on," Nestor said. "And, you know, they played a little bit more solidly in the breaker."

Pospisil and Nestor, seeded No. 7, lost the first-set tiebreak 7-1 to the seventh-seeded Spaniards on the small court where it was standing room only. Fans who couldn't squeeze in broke holes in the green mesh sheeting surrounding the court so they could peer through the chain-link fence. 

The second set also went to tiebreak, with the Canadians battling back to force the decisive game. A pair of double faults while Canada held serve gave the Spaniards an early advantage in the tiebreak. A third double fault by Nestor handed Spain the tiebreak victory and a berth in the gold-medal match.

The frustrating night came amid a roller-coaster few weeks for Nestor, who was originally left off the Olympic team, but added just two weeks before the opening ceremonies when Canadian star Milos Raonic withdrew over concerns about the Zika virus. 

"It was tough at first, but I'm happy that we got the opportunity to play," said Nestor, a father of two young daughters. "I came here because I thought we had a chance to win a medal, otherwise I wouldn't have come, and now we have that chance.

"We had two chances and hopefully we get the second one and we're going to fight hard."

Nestor aims to add a second medal to the gold he won in 2000 in Sydney, where he and Montreal's Sebastien Lareau upset heavy favourites Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde. It stands as Canada's only Olympic medal in tennis.

He's also won a whopping 1,000 doubles matches over his ATP career, including eight Grand Slam titles with various partners.

Nestor and Dominic Inglot teamed to win the Aegon Open men's doubles final in June, giving Nestor at least one men's doubles title for 23 straight years.

Pospisil, who at 26 was just 10 years old when Nestor captured Olympic gold, said the loss stung.

"Because I don't think we played our best. I didn't play my best," said the Vancouver product. "They just played the bigger points better, I think that was what made the difference, and that's what's disappointing about it.

"I think the conditions, to be honest, were very tough," he added. "It was very tough to volley in wind like this, and I think that definitely didn't help our cause, especially because it was a little bit of an equalizer in terms of the strategy that we had against guys who don't serve very big. So it was tougher today to execute."

The match started under bright sunshine and 23 C, but blustery winds. The temperature had dropped several degrees by the final shot.

Nadal, meanwhile, was playing about two hours after he dispatched Gilles Simon of France to reach the men's singles quarter-finals. He was scheduled to play mixed doubles later Thursday, but he and French Open champ Garbine Muguruzu withdrew.

Spain will play Romania's Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau for men's doubles gold.