Rafael Nadal was experiencing stomach pain and was unable to play his usual aggressive brand of tennis against Taylor Fritz in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Rafael Nadal was concerned that he would have to retire from the match.
The father of 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal was gesturing with his arms from the Centre Court stands for his son to give up. Perhaps not unexpectedly, his child didn’t pay attention. Nadal persevered, modified his serving motion and approach, and found a way to win.
Nadal twice overcame one-set deficits against 11th-seeded Fritz, and he came out on top 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-4) on Wednesday to advance to his seventh quarterfinal at the All England Club with the majority of the crowd cheering and applauding after some of his greatest shots.
“For a lot of moments,” Nadal said, “I was thinking, ‘Maybe I will not be able to finish the match.'”
The match between Nadal and Nick Kyrgios is set for this Friday. Kyrgios, a 27-year-old Australian, defeated Chilean Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) to get to his first Grand Slam semifinal.
Will he, though? He stated he wasn’t sure if he would be available for Friday’s semifinal match against Kyrgios after receiving anti-inflammatories during Wednesday’s match to “relax” the muscle.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic will face No. 9 Cam Norrie in the other semifinal match for men.
Nadal avoided Fritz, a 24-year-old American who lost to Nadal in the final at Indian Wells, California, in March, from making his first-ever major semifinal appearance. This allowed Nadal to advance to his 38th major semifinal of his career. For Nadal, who was dealing with a serious rib injury that day, that brought an end to a 20-match winning streak.
This time, the issue was a muscle in his lower abdomen that needed athletic tape, much like it was for Nadal’s match on Monday in the fourth round, but he chose not to talk about it. On Wednesday, with the score 4-3 in the second set, Nadal and a trainer left the court for a medical stoppage, while Fritz paced the baseline in anticipation of the game’s return.
Regarding his stomach problem, Nadal stated after the game, “It’s challenging. When you have something like this, nothing can be corrected, end of story.
Nadal stated that he had considered giving up. Fritz’s quality of play dropped dramatically for a while, so perhaps he was considering that possibility as well.
He essentially conceded the second set of the match, which would end up lasting 4 hours and 21 minutes beneath a sky of slate clouds. Fritz won the third set, but the following set saw three breaks of his powerful serve.
On occasion, Fritz’s orange racket’s ball would fly by while Nadal watched it. Nadal was unable to move as effortlessly as usual. Rarely did he utter his signature “Uhhhh!” grunt. His serves lacked the typical zip, dropping from a peak of 120 mph to barely over 100 mph. He tried to stop conversations with a quick forehand or a drop shot, sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully.
“A tough afternoon. Not an easy match at all,” Nadal said. “In the abdominal, something is not going well.”
Nevertheless, he saved his best for last, taking a 5-0 lead in the decisive tiebreaker — Wimbledon’s new first-to-10, win-by-two format starts at 6-all in a fifth set this year — and then five of the final six points. In doing so, Nadal increased his unbeaten record in Grand Slam matches in 2022 to 19-0. He now hopes to add the Wimbledon championship to his 2022 victories at the Australian Open and the French Open. Despite all of his successes, the 36-year-old Spaniard has never claimed the first three Slam titles of a given season.
In their head-to-head series, Nadal leads Kyrgios 6-3, but they are tied at 1-1 at Wimbledon. In 2014, Kyrgios, then 19 and ranked 144th, made a name for himself by shocking Nadal; Nadal won the rematch in 2019 after Kyrgios had spent the night before drinking till the early hours at a nearby pub.
“Obviously, we know, two completely different personalities,” Kyrgios said of Nadal. “I feel like we respect the hell out of each other, though. I feel like that would be a mouth-watering kind of encounter for everyone around the world. That would probably be the most-watched match of all time. I would argue that.”
Even Kyrgios could not believe that this day would ever come. He played what, for him, amounted to a reserved and effective type of tennis against Garin to become the first unseeded and lowest-ranked player to reach the All England Club last four since 2008.
The 40th-ranked Kyrgios has drawn more attention for his conduct both on and off the court than for his tennis prowess. An complaint of common assault resulting from an incident in December was made against Kyrgios the day before his match against unseeded Garin, 26, in Canberra, Australia, according to police.
Kyrgios received a $10,000 fine for spitting on a heckling fan after winning the first round of Wimbledon last week. Kyrgios was fined a further $4,000 for using an audible profanity during his third-round victory over No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas later referred to Kyrgios as a “bully” and “evil.”
But it’s also important to note how brilliantly Kyrgios has been playing lately. His serve in particular, which often exceeds 130 mph, is among the strongest in the game. He pounded Garin with 17 aces while only being broken once—at love in the first game.
Although Kyrgios has great big forehands and little else is conventional about him, as evidenced by his on-court remarks following the game.
“I don’t have a coach,” Kyrgios said with a smile. “I would never put that burden on someone.”