Injured Nadal Survives In 5, Gets Kyrgios In Wimbledon SF
Despite some sort of abdominal injury early in the match, Rafael Nadal hung tough and outlasted Taylor Fritz in five sets 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(10-4).
“It was a tough afternoon against a great player,” Nadal told the crowd. “All the credit to Taylor, he has been playing great during the whole season. From my personal side, it was not an easy match at all, so I’m just very happy to be in the semifinals.
“The body in general is fine. In the abdominal it is not going well, being honest. I had to find a way to serve a little bit differently, for a lot of moments I was thinking maybe I would not be able to finish the match, but I don’t know.”
Nadal, who had lost to Fritz in the Indian Wells final when he was dealing with a rib injury, today started off strong racing out to a quick break lead.
A nervous Fritz would settle down and break back and get on a tear to steal the first set.
In the second, Nadal was seemed appeared to have an issue with his movement and his serve. Finally, after a grimace and at 4-3, Nadal would get the trainer. Nadal complained about his ab area which was also taped up. He would leave the court and come back. In his box, Nadal’s dad would signal to his son to quit. Rafa wouldn’t.
He returned to the court but could hardly get pace on the his serve and his movement was far the where it should be. Fritz, though, couldn’t capitalize and dropped the second set. But the 24-year-old playing his first Grand Slam quarterfinal took control of the wounded Nadal in the third. And going into the fourth it looked like Rafa was done, and the question was, would he finish.
Nadal would, Fritz wouldn’t.
Nadal still wasn’t near his best but getting better. Meanwhile, sensing the the victory was near and he was the expected to win, Fritz couldn’t find the mark. Nadal fought early in the fourth then ran away with the set to force the decider.
In the fifth, Nadal was still improving and Fritz and found his form. But a tight game at 3-all cost Fritz. However the American would break right back, and eventually it went to a breaker.
Nadal jumped out 4-0 and then eventually got the job done to win his 19th straight match in a Grand Slam this season.
Nadal went from being told to quit to winning and keeping the Calendar Grand Slam alive.
“Tomorrow I’m going to have some more tests,” Nadal said. “But difficult to know. It’s obvious that I am a player who had a lot of things in my tennis career, so I am used to have things and I am used to hold pain and to play with problems. Knowing that, when I feel something like I felt, that is because something is not going the proper way in abdominal.
“But let’s see. It’s obvious that today is nothing new. I had these feelings for a couple of days. Without a doubt, today was the worst day. Have been an important increase of pain and limitation. And that’s it.
“I managed to win that match. Let’s see what’s going on tomorrow.”
The loss left Fritz nearly in tears.
“It was a tough match. I think I did some things well and some things not as good. In the end he was just really, really, really good,” Fritz said. “Certain parts of the match I felt like maybe I kind of just needed to come up with more, do more. I left a lot up to him, and he delivered. It was a great match. Honestly, probably hurts more than any loss I’ve ever had.
“After the match was over, I was sitting there and I felt like crying, like I wanted to cry,” he said. “I’ve never felt like that ever after a loss. I’ve never felt like I could cry after a loss. Just that’s telling enough to know that this one hurt more than any other one’s hurt before.”
In the semifinal on Friday, it will be Nadal’s nemesis Nick Kyrgios. The Australian got off to a slow start losing the first 9 points but then cruised past Cristian 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(5) to reach his first career Grand Slam semifinal.
“How things can change,” said the 27-year-old. “There was a point where I was almost done with the sport. I posted this year about the mental state I was in in 2019 when I was at the Australian Open, with self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
“I had thoughts in the last year-and-a-half whether I wanted to play any more. Lost the love, lost the fire, lost the spark. Then some things just changed in my life.
“I rediscovered that a lot of people want me to play. I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I’m probably playing some of my best tennis, mentally feeling great.
“To be a semifinalist at Wimbledon is a special accomplishment for anyone, but especially for me. I just sat there today and soaked it all in. At the same time I feel like I don’t want to stop here either.”
Nadal leads Kyrgios 6-3 but the Australian has a big win over Rafa in 2014.
“That will probably be the most watched match of all time,” he said looking ahead to Nadal. “We’ve had some absolute battles on that Centre Court. He’s won one against me, and I’ve won one against him.
“Two completely different personalities. I feel like we respect the hell out of each other. It will be a mouthwatering encounter for everyone around the world.”
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