Injured Nadal Withdraws From Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal (photo: Wimbledon video)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, July 8, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Wimbledon Championships Thursday evening, a day ahead of his semifinal match at the All England Club.

During a news conference, the World No. 4 and second-seeded Nadal said he pulled out of the men’s singles competition due to a torn abdominal muscle. It’s likely that Nadal exacerbated the injury during his four-hour and 21-minute, 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4) victory over No. 11 seed Taylor Fritz on Wednesday evening. However, Nadal admitted he had been playing with pain throughout his first four matches of the grass-court major. Against Fritz, the Spaniard kept playing despite pleas from his father and sister to retire.

“I have been suffering with pain the abdominal … there is a tear in the muscle,” Nadal, 36, revealed during his Thursday evening news conference. There was a look of resignation on his face.

“I was thinking during the whole day about the decision to make,” he said.

Nadal answered questions from reporters in both English and Spanish during his 20-minute news conference. Earlier in the day, he held a light practice session on a secluded court not accessible to the public.

“I made the decision because I don’t believe I can win two matches under these circumstances,” Nadal said in reference to his scheduled semifinal against World No. 40 Nick Kyrgios on Friday and a potential title match against either top seed Novak Djokovic or No. 9 seed Cameron Norrie on Sunday.

“I can’t serve. It’s not only that I can’t serve at the right speed, it’s that I can’t do the normal movement to serve.”

According to the Associated Press, it’s the first time since 1931 that a man had pulled out of Wimbledon, the oldest Grand Slam tournament, before a semifinal or final.

Nadal, a 22-time major champion, twice described himself as “very sad.” He said that trying to continue in the tournament could possibly make his injury worse.

“I think it doesn’t make sense to go on. Even if I tried a lot of times during my career to keep going under very tough circumstances, in that one I think it’s obvious that if I keep going, the injury will get worse and worse,” Nadal said. “That’s the thing that I can say now. I feel very sad to say that, it’s a very tough one.”

Looking back, the only other time in Nadal’s storied career that he pulled out of a Grand Slam event before a match occurred at the 2016 French Open. It happened when he withdrew before the third round against Marcel Granollers of Spain because of an injured left wrist.

As a result of Nadal’s Wimbledon withdrawal, the 27-year-old Kyrgios has advanced to his first major title final. He becomes the first unseeded men’s finalist at Wimbledon since Mark Philippousis in 2003, who was beaten by Roger Federer.

After the news of Nadal’s withdrawal went viral on social media, Kyrgios wrote in an Instagram post to Nadal: “I hope your recovery goes well and we all hope to see you healthy soon.”


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A post shared by Nick Kyrgios (@k1ngkyrg1os)

By the numbers

Rafael Nadal is 19-0 in Grand Slam play this year, including titles won at the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June. It put him halfway toward a calendar-year Grand Slam for the first time in his career. Now, with his withdrawal, it ends that bid. Still, Nadal owns a 35-3 win-loss record this season and has won four titles.

“I never thought about the calendar Slam,” Nadal said. “I thought about my daily happiness and my daily work. Just play for the things that I really feel like.”

“Quotable …”

“As I always said, for me the most important thing is happiness more than any title, even if everybody knows how much effort I put to be here. But I can’t risk that match and stay two, three months outside of the competition because that’s going to be a tough thing for me.”

– No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain, during his Thursday evening news conference in which he withdrew from the Wimbledon Championships due to torn abdominal muscle.