Nadal overcomes injury to beat Fritz in five-set Wimbledon thriller

Rafael Nadal beats Taylor Fritz 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 to set up a Wimbledon semi-final with Nick Kyrgios; Nadal appeared to suffer from abdominal strain through Centre Court classic; Fritz also received treatment on an apparent thigh issue

Last Updated: 06/07/22 8:22pm

Rafael Nadal produced a remarkable comeback on Centre Court
Rafael Nadal produced a remarkable comeback on Centre Court

Rafael Nadal came from behind to beat Taylor Fritz in a five-set quarter-final thriller at Wimbledon as the Spaniard battled injury to keep alive his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam.

Nadal appeared on the verge of withdrawing as he called the trainer to tend to an abdominal issue during the second set, but twice came from a set down against the American to seal a remarkable 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 (10-4) victory in four hours and 20 minutes.

The 36-year-old Spaniard, who won the Australian Open and French Open earlier this year to reach a men’s record 22 Grand Slam singles titles, will face Nick Kyrgios in Friday’s semi-final, after the Australian advanced to the last four for the first time with a straight-sets win over Cristian Garin.

“The body in general is fine, of course in the abdominal something is not going well, being honest,” two-time champion Nadal said on court after the match.

“I have to find a way to serve a little bit different. For a lot of moments I was thinking maybe I will not be able to finish the match.”

Nadal required treatment on several occasions
Nadal required treatment on several occasions

“I hope to be ready to play. That’s the first thing. Then, Nick is a great player in all surfaces but especially here on grass. He’s having a great grass-court season. It’s going to be a big challenge, I’m going to need to be at 100 per cent to have chances and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

It was American Fritz, seeded 11, who halted Nadal’s winning start to the season at 20 matches in the Indian Wells final in March when the Spaniard was hampered by a fractured rib, and it appeared history was repeating itself.

Taylor Fritz was left despondent after his five-set defeat to Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon
Taylor Fritz was left despondent after his five-set defeat to Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon

But on this occasion, the 24-year-old – playing in a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time – appeared to initially be distracted by Nadal’s plight, while he also would require treatment on his heavily strapped thigh.

Match Statistics

Taylor Fritz Rafael Nadal
19 Aces 5
3 Double faults 7
63% First serve in % 65%
70% Win % on first serve 70%
48% Win % on second serve 47%
20/35 Net points won 26/36
8/14 Break points won 7/14
56 Winners 56
35 Unforced errors 42
168 Total points won 168

Nadal pulls off remarkable comeback

On paper, Nadal’s straight-sets victory over Botic van de Zandschulp in the fourth round had been straightforward but tape was visible on the Spaniard’s abdomen.

Nadal declined to discuss the problem afterwards, and he looked in fine fettle early on against Fritz, breaking serve in the first game and easing to a 3-1 lead.

From there the American began to really threaten the second seed’s serve, though, and a run of five games in a row earned him the opening set.

Fritz was in the ascendancy after the first set
Fritz was in the ascendancy after the first set

Nadal responded well and broke serve to start the second set but the pattern repeated itself as back came Fritz, with his opponent’s serving speeds notably down.

A rueful look came across the 36-year-old’s face as he talked to the trainer after battling to hold serve and lead 4-3, and he headed off court for a lengthy medical time-out.

Nadal’s father Sebastian, watching from his player box, appeared to gesture to his son to call it a day but he battled on and showed his ability to dig deep by winning the second set.

Nadal admitted after the match he had considered withdrawing
Nadal admitted after the match he had considered withdrawing

Hopes of a miraculous recovery faded during the third set, though, which ended with Nadal sitting on his chair and shaking his head towards his box.

Fritz glanced at his opponent, waiting for the handshake, but it did not come, and Nadal went to the well again to move in front early in the fourth set.

The American knew the match was there for the taking but putting Nadal away was a different story.

Fritz was in the ascendancy after the first set
Fritz was in the ascendancy after the first set

He pulled back to lead 5-4 only for Nadal to get his forehand going and claim three games in a row to force an unlikely decider.

Fritz was a picture of frustration, which only increased when Nadal broke to lead 4-3, but the Spaniard was still struggling to find dominance on serve and back came his opponent straight away.

Nadal seized control of the deciding tie-break by winning the first five points and, although Fritz briefly threatened a comeback, he could not deny the remarkable Spaniard as he clinched victory.

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Source : Sky Sports