Rafael Nadal, who pulled out of the Olympic Games last week due to a knee injury, said he is confident that Spain's tennis contingent will perform well in London, particularly David Ferrer.
"Tennis at the Olympic Games is such a special competition. Also because it's on grass and it's the best of three sets everybody can win. However, I'm really patriotic so I wish David Ferrer or any Spanish player wins the Olympic gold," the world No. 3 said in a chat on the Eurosport network.
Ferrer, the world No. 5, has had one of the best seasons of his career thus far in 2012, reaching his first ever French Open semifinal in June before making an impressive run earlier this month to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, which also will serve as the tennis venue for the London Games.
Nadal, who won singles gold in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, said it is unfortunate that a nagging knee ailment forced him to withdraw from this year's competition.
"It's sadly down to my knee. It's a problem I was suffering from at Wimbledon and I simply haven't recovered fully enough to play," Nadal, who was stunned in the second round of that Grand Slam event by unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol, said during the chat.
"It's such a huge shame because the Olympic Games only come around every four years, but that's life and I hope to be back soon."
Nadal teamed up with 1998 French Open champ and fellow Mallorca-born tennis star Carlos Moya in the doubles event in Athens as an 18-year-old, four years before his run to the singles title in Beijing.
After tennis, Nadal's next two favorite sports are soccer and golf. He played the former at a high level as a youngster but insists he has no regrets about his chosen path.
"I was much better playing tennis than football! I love football but I love tennis too and I think I made the right choice. I do love team sports though and in tennis you don't get much of a chance to play in a team, it's only really when we are representing our country, and that's something I miss," the 11-time Grand Slam champion said.
As an adult, he now tries to get on the links whenever his busy tennis schedule allows. He also names Tiger Woods as the competitor he most admires in any sport, citing the American's focus and mental toughness.
Prior to his loss at Wimbledon, Nadal capped off another stellar clay-court season by winning a record seventh French Open title in early June.
The Olympics tennis competition gets underway on Saturday. EFE