Kei Nishikori has won Japan’s first Olympic tennis medal in over a century, defeating Spain’s Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-7 (1/7), 6-3.
Nishikori becomes the first Japanese tennis medalist since Antwerp in 1920 when the country won men’s silver and men’s doubles silver.
Earlier on Friday, the Spaniard had won the doubles gold with Marc Lopez.
He then lost an epic three-hour singles semi-final to world number 141 Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday.
Nadal, the 2008 singles champion in Beijing was playing his 11th match in Rio.
But the 30-year-old did not go down meekly, fighting back from 2-5 down in the second set to push the play-off into a decider.
Del Potro will face defending champion Andy Murray for the gold medal later Sunday.
Nishikori had lost nine of his previous meetings against Nadal.
But he eventually proved too strong for the 14-time major winner.
Nadal was playing in his first tournament in almost three months after a wrist injury forced an early withdrawal from the French Open.
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