Wimbledon 2022: Nadal withdraws from semi-finals to give Kyrgios pass into final
Nadal: “The most important thing is happiness more than any title… That’s my decision and I have to live with that”
It perhaps came as no surprise to anyone who saw his quarter-final match against Taylor Fritz on Wednesday afternoon, but Rafael Nadal has made the decision to withdraw from his semi-final against Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon on Friday.
It is the latest in a string of injury problems. Nadal suffered a stress fracture in the final of Indian Wells, losing to Fritz there, and then had to manage foot pain with medication throughout most of the Roland Garros. After winning his 22nd Major title in Paris, he took time out to treat that foot and recover from a demanding 2022 season that saw him go unbeaten in his first 20 matches, including a run to the Australian Open title.
So he arrived at Wimbledon with no grass preparation, and after dropping sets in his first two matches, he began to look like the man who had won the Wimbledon trophy twice. But in that quarter-final against Fritz, it soon became clear that something was amiss as his serve deteriorated, and midway through the second set, he took a medical timeout during which he took anti-inflammatories and pain killers.
He scrambled back to win a close second set, but Fritz took advantage of Nadal’s below-par serving and movement to the backhand to take the third set.
However, despite the concern written all over the Spaniard’s face, he battled through the next two sets to seal his eighth semi-final in a final tie-break. But he made it clear afterwards that it had been a difficult decision to continue, especially as his family were encouraging him to retire in the early stages.
He also admitted that he would be undertaking scans of his abdomen this morning, and he did not appear on his scheduled court for practice. Instead he had a gentle session away from public eyes on the Aorangi courts.
So when his name flashed up on the interview schedule on Thursday evening, the decision had clearly been taken to withdraw.
“Unfortunately, as you can imagine if I am here, I have to pull out from the tournament, no? As everybody saw yesterday, I have been suffering with the pain in abdominal. I know something was not OK there, as I said yesterday. Yeah, that’s confirmed. I have a tear in the muscle in the abdominal.
“I was thinking during the whole day about the decision to make, but I think it don’t make sense to go [on]. Even if I tried 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 going to be worse and worse.”
Asked whether it was fear of exacerbating the injury that brought him to his decision, or that he could not give his best in the remaining matches, he was open:
“I made my decision because I believe that I can’t win two matches under these circumstances. I can’t serve. Is not only that I can’t serve at the right speed, it’s that I can’t do the normal movement to serve.
“I have to say, imagining myself winning two matches, and for respect to myself in some way, I don’t want to go out there, not be competitive enough to play at the level that I need to play to achieve my goal, and with a big chance to make the things much worse.”
Amid the undoubted disappointment written on his face and in his tone of voice, he clearly had his eye on the wider picture, and on his future life:
“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.
“That’s my decision and I have to live with that. I can’t say another thing. I am
very sad and have been a very tough one.”
It sends the unseeded Kyrgios straight to his first Major final, eight years after the Australian reached his first quarter-final here at the age of 19. He becomes the first player ever to receive a walkover into the Wimbledon final, where he will play either Novak Djokovic or Cameron Norrie