This time, it is in the abdominals that Rafael Nadal has pain, but he gritted his teeth on Wednesday and qualified for the Wimbledon semi-finals where he will find the volcanic Nick Kyrgios on Friday who "found the opening" towards the last square.
For Nadal, the quarters almost ended prematurely not because of his left foot, which made him suffer so much in the spring to the point of making him consider retirement, but because of his abs.
"The body, in general, is fine but I have something in the abdominals", explained on the court without further details - he wears large sticky bands under his t-shirt - the 36-year-old Spaniard, after his victory in the super tie-break of the fifth set against the American Taylor Fritz (14th) 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10/4).
Nadal wears abdominal bandages.
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“I thought several times that I would not finish the match, but the public, with the energy that they sent me, allowed me to go to the end”, he added.
Nadal also had to find "a way to serve a little differently" as the pain made his usual gesture impossible to perform.
"We can't treat what I have like this"
He even thought about giving up for a moment when his father and sister, in the stands, waved to him in the second set.
“Yeah, they were telling me to give up.
But it's hard to give up in the middle of a game.
It's hard, even though I've been thinking about it for a while.
But on the other hand, I have already given up in my career.
It's something I hate to do.
So I kept trying to play.
Does he think he can be put back to play his semi-final on Friday?
" I do not know.
I will do new exams this Thursday, slipped Nadal.
Obviously I'm not the kind of player who has never been injured.
I used to have physical issues and I used to contain my pain and play with those issues.
I've had these pains for a few days, but this was much worse, I had much more pain and it handicapped me much more.
I managed to win the match and let's see how it will be afterwards.
But I'm concerned, of course.
25 shots of pure tennis theater 🎭@RafaelNadal 🤝 @Taylor_Fritz97#Wimbledon |
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 6, 2022
“We can't do much”, analyzes the champion again, before specifying: “The doctor came, he gave me anti-inflammatories and painkillers.
The physio tried to relax the muscle a bit.
But it is difficult.
We can't cure what I have like this.
But as I said, it is not easy to leave the tournament, to leave Wimbledon, even if the pain is great.
I just wanted to finish, regardless of the outcome.
I obviously prefer to win.
So I fought.
And I'm proud of my mindset and how I managed to be competitive in those circumstances.
Kyrgios for a first
The match was not of immense quality of play, but of a rare dramatic intensity, until the super tie-break where Nadal finally played great tennis to end with a signature forehand.
After winning the first two Grand Slam tournaments, at the Australian Open and at Roland-Garros, he is only two games away from adding a 23rd Major to his incredible list.
But for the double winner (2008 and 2010), the biggest obstacles on the road to a third trophy on the London lawn are still ahead.
Starting with the turbulent Nick Kyrgios (40th) who awaits him in the semi-finals on Friday.
“I hope I will be ready to play this game.
Nick is a great player on all surfaces, but especially on grass.
He is having a great season on grass and I will absolutely have to be 100% physically to have my chances,” said Nadal, who will play his sixth half in London.
Kyrgios, he accesses for the first time at 27 years old and after two lost quarters (Wimbledon 2014 and Australian Open 2015) to this last four in Grand Slam.
“I never imagined being in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament, I thought I had let the train pass, that I had missed the opening …”, he admitted.
A few minutes earlier, he savored lying on his back with his arms crossed his victory 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) against the Chilean Cristian Garin (43rd).
Worst half-time finish since 2008
Unique in his game, his attitude, his expression, Kyrgios is also unique in his preparation: he plays without a coach and therefore will not have one to prepare for this semi-final against Nadal.
“I don't have a coach because I wouldn't want to put that weight on anyone's shoulders.
No one knows my tennis as well as I do,” he explained.
Kyrgios thus becomes the first Australian to enter the last four of Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005. He is also the worst ranked player to play the semis since the 2008 edition when Marat Safin, 75th in the world, and Rainer Schuettler, 94th , had both succeeded.