The upsets and surprises kept coming Tuesday at the Australian Open. A day after Novak Djokovic was ousted, Rafael Nadal followed, in disheartening fashion retiring to Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals down 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, 2-0 with what appeared to be an upper right leg issue.
Nadal held the lead by two sets to one but at some point in the fourth the World No. 1 injured that upper right leg/hip area chasing a drop shot. Down 1-4, Nadal called for a medical timeout for treatment.
He continued on and started moving a little better, perhaps because of the tablets kicking in. But after dropping the fourth, he again received treatment and upon returning it was evident he would not last for much longer.
At the 3:56 mark in the match, he retired for just the second time in his Grand Slam career after 2010 Australian Open quarters to Andy Murray which was a knee.
“I can’t say because I don’t know,” Nadal said of the injury.
“In the fourth at one movement, one dropshot I think, I felt something. At that moment I thought something happened, but I didn’t realize how bad, how bad was what’s going on in that moment.
“High on the leg. But I don’t want to lie. Tomorrow we going to communicate what’s going on after the MRI. You know, is not the moment to say what’s going on or what not going on because we really don’t know and the doctor really don’t know yet.”
Nadal’s bid for a second career Grand Slam comes to an end, and he falls to just 5-5 in Australian Open quarterfinal matches.
Cilic moves into his fifth Grand Slam semifinal, his second in Melbourne after 2010 when he lost to Murray who got there after a Rafa retirement.
“In the end very unfortunate because Rafa is always fighting really hard, always giving the best on the court,” Cilic said. “I guess in the pre-season he had some troubles with the injuries, but he came here prepared really, really well. He played a very good tournament. Obviously very sad for him to finish the way he did.
After a post-Wimbledon final slump, Cilic is happy to be back playing good tennis again. And before the injury, he was pushing Nadal around.
“Extremely pleased with my own game,” Cilic said. “Even in these other matches before this one, I played great tennis. Very, very high level. Had a tough match against Carreno Busta in the last round. Then today, beginning of the match was not the best. I made some unforced errors in some moments. 4-3 serving with new balls, lost that set 6-3. I was a break down in the second.”
Next for Cilic is a Brit in the semifinals, just not that Brit. British No. 2 Kyle Edmund made like injured British No. 1 Andy Murray by stunning the third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov to reach his very first Grand Slam semifinal.
The 49th-ranked Edmund was paced by his huge forehand and errors from the Bulgarian who slumped after a scintillating performance Sunday night against Nick Kyrgios.
Edmund became the sixth British man to make a Slam semifinal. And he did it by winning his first match in 15 against a Top 10 player.
“I am loving it right now, just the way I’m playing,” Edmund said. “I’m 23 years old, my first Grand Slam semifinal. First time I played on one of the biggest courts in the world. To beat a quality of player like Grigor. Of course, all these things I’m aware of. They’re great feelings. You don’t obviously play in the semifinals of a Grand Slam every day, or a quarters like today.
“I just try to enjoy it as much as possible, like I said. I knew I was in a good place. There’s no reason why my tennis wasn’t good enough to win. It’s obviously about going out there and doing it.”
Edmund came out quick in the match but the Bulgarian made a comeback, though couldn’t sustain the momentum. And it was Edmund who hung on in the end.
“The match in Brisbane was tight,” Edmund recalled. “Not too much in it. Today was sort of similar. I don’t know. Maybe just in the key moments I maybe stepped up well and was brave, really went for my shots, and they came good. I believed that I could pull off some good stuff.
“The last two sets were sort of more about that. I started well in the first set. That was more of my start, though, to the match that got me that set.
“In the second, to break him, then serve it out, to play a good game like that… Okay, I broke, got broken back, but I thought I played good tennis, took the ball on when I needed to, and it came good for me.
“To serve out the match was also really good for me under that sort of pressure, I guess.”
Dimitrov, who had beaten Edmund in the quarterfinals of Brisbane earlier in the month, credited his opponent for the win.
‘Kyle deserves all the respect,” Dimitrov said. “He deserved to win, simple as that. He’s been working so hard the past months. I’ve seen that. Played him a couple of times.
“I take full responsibility of my match today. There’s no point for me to say what I did wrong because I can sit here and talk about it, but it’s all about him right now. He’s the winner.”
After winning the ATP Finals title to end 2017, this year Dimitrov has lost to Nick Kyrgios in the Brisbane semifinals and now Edmund in the Australian Open quarters.
“It’s hard to hide a disappointment,” Dimitrov added. “I am disappointed. It’s how I feel. It hurts, and so it should.
“Right now I won’t think too rational, simple as that. I need to give myself a couple of days just to relax a little bit and kind of do things I don’t get a chance to do during the tournament, and kind of I think reassess the whole Australian trip. I think overall it wasn’t a bad one, but certainly wasn’t where I wanted to be.”
Cilic leads Edmund 1-0 beating him in Shanghai last fall.
“I’m going to prepare for that match like for any other one,” Cilic said of the semi. “Kyle had amazing run here. A lot of tough matches, played great tennis. He’s also very entertaining to watch. Big hitter, great serve, great forehand. Plays great on the hard courts.
“For me, another good opportunity. Obviously on the paper probably easier to play him than Rafa. But still he deserved a lot to be here at the spot where he is.”
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