In his quest to become the first man after Rod Laver to win calendar grand slams, Rafael Nadal’s biggest nemesis proved to be his own body. A day after recording one of the gutsiest wins of his career, Nadal has confirmed his withdrawal from Wimbledon, ahead of Friday’s semi-final clash against Nick Kyrgios.
Nadal kickstarted his year with grand slam titles in Melbourne and Paris, and was a serious contender to make it three in a row. He would have arrived at the semi-final with an unblemished record of 19-0 in major events. Unfortunately, however, as per Marca, Nadal has suffered a 7mm abdominal tear.
“I have to pull out of the tournament. As everybody saw yesterday I have been suffering from pain in the abdominal [area]. That’s confirmed. I have a tear in the muscle,” Nadal said during a press conference on Thursday.
“It doesn’t make sense to play, injury will get worse,” he added.
There were ample signs of an impending breakdown in his quarter-final triumph over Taylor Fritz. After getting outmuscled in the first set, Nadal had to take a medical timeout, where he took an injection to numb his pain. His court coverage was far from the best, while the speed of his service game dropped drastically, and he relied heavily on his forehand to finish the game.
His father, Sebastian, was seen gesturing for Nadal to abandon the game. But the Spaniard paid no heed, and completed a remarkable turnaround to clinch the game 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6. In the post-match conference, he wore a concerned face, hinting that he might have to withdraw from the tournament.
“The decision at the end — all the decisions — are the player’s decision, but at the same time I need to know different opinions and I need to check everything the proper way, no? That is even something more important than win Wimbledon, that is health,” said Nadal.
Nadal’s career has been perpetually plagued by injury. This was the 13th instance of him withdrawing from the grand slams event, and the fourth time he had to retire midway through the tournament. In contrast, Novak Djokovic, his arch-rival, has played all grand slams from 2005 to 2016.
With his withdrawal, Kyrgios has earned an automatic entry to Wimbledon’s final – the first of his career.
“Different players, different personalities,” Kyrgios wrote on Nadal. “@rafaelnadal I hope your recovery goes well and we all hope to see you healthy soon 🗣🙏🏽 till next time.”
Featured Image Credit: Rafael Nadal/Twitter