Wimbledon: The Battle To Win Another Major Continues For Nadal

Rafael Nadal (photo: Wimbledon video)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, July 7, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Rafael Nadal has already won this year’s Australian Open in January and added the French Open in June. Now, after winning 19 straight Grand Slam matches, including a five-set quarterfinal thriller over No. 11 seed Taylor Fritz at the Wimbledon Championships on Wednesday night, the Spaniard is seeking to keep his bid to win all four Grand Slam titles in the same year alive.

It won’t be easy, though, especially considering that Nadal faces No. 40 Nick Kyrgios on Friday. The mercurial Australian was on his best behavior in beating No. 43 Cristian Garin of Chile, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5), at the same time that Nadal was battling with Fritz, in his own four-hour and 21-minute tussle on Centre Court.

Nadal came from a set down to beat Fritz from the United States, 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4), to set up his semifinal showdown with Kyrgios.

The World No. 4 Nadal’s victory over Fritz improved his career quarterfinal win-loss record at The Championships to 8-0 and it was his fourth straight five-set triumph. He’s now 26-13 lifetime in five-setters.

Looking back, it was the two-time (2008, 2010) Wimbledon champion’s ability to keep coming up with the right stuff when it wasn’t always easy to do so that proved his mettle. Nadal hit 56 winners and converted seven break points against the American No. 1.

But there’s more to this story.

Beyond facing Kyrgios, there the matter that Nadal was in considerable pain and discomfort early on against Fritz. The No. 2 seed left the court for a medical time out at 4-3 in the second set due to abdominal pain. If it were up to his father and sister, he would have retired and gone home. That Nadal came back and gutted out a five-set victory should be commendable – but there’s no guarantee he’ll be pain free when he plays Kyrgios.

Tomorrow, I’m going to have some more tests,” Nadal said Wednesday night during his post-match press conference. “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.”

In the run-up to the quarterfinals, Nadal beat Francisco Cerundolo, Ricardas Berankis, No. 27 seed Lorenzo Sonego and No. 21 seed Botic van de Zandschulp. In his first two matches, he was taken to four sets before prevailing. Then, Nadal won twice in straight sets before going the distance against Fritz. When he was asked to comment on his attitude, Nadal said: “I’m playing great.

“I am enjoying a lot. The level of tennis, if we put away the problems, something that’s difficult, the level of tennis, the feeling that I am having with the ball on my hand is honestly great. I am feeling myself playing very well.

“But now? I’m worried now, honestly.”

Wednesday’s Wimbledon results 

Thursday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

With two left-handed hitters among this year’s Wimbledon men’s semifinalists, Rafael Nadal and Cameron Norrie, it’s the first time it’s happened at a major since 2010. The last time, it was Nadal and Jürgen Melzer at Roland-Garros 12 years ago. The last time two lefties made the last four at Wimbledon was in 1992, featuring John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic. Both McEnroe and Ivanisevic are at this year’s Wimbledon, but in different capacities than 30 years ago. That’s because McEnroe is a broadcast analyst for both ESPN and the BBC while Ivanisevic is Novak Djokovic’s coach.

“Quotable …”

“They told me I need to retire the match, yeah. Well, I tried. For me was tough to retire in the middle of the match. Not easy even if I had that idea for such a long time [in the match].

“But in the other hand, I did it a couple of times in my tennis career. Is something that I hate to do it. So, I just keep trying.

“Doctor came, give me some anti-inflammatories. The physio just tried to relax a little bit the muscle there. But it’s difficult. Nothing can be fixed when you have a thing like this.

“I just wanted to give myself a chance. Not easy to leave the tournament. Not easy to leave Wimbledon, even if the pain was hard. I wanted to finish. Doesn’t matter. Well, I prefer to win, with victory or defeat. That’s what I did. I fought. Proud about the fighting spirit and the way that I managed to be competitive under those conditions.”

– No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain, from his post-match press conference Wednesday evening, commenting that his father and sister asked him to retire from his quarterfinal match against Taylor Fritz after suffering an abdominal injury in the second set. Nadal went on to win the match in five sets.