Rafael Nadal withdraws from Wimbledon with injury, putting Nick Kyrgios in the final

Nick Kyrgios has automatically advanced to the Wimbledon men’s final after Rafael Nadal announced he will not be able to play in the semi because of a horror injury.

Rafael Nadal has officially pulled out of Friday’s semi-final against Nick Kyrgios because of an abdominal injury, sending the Australian straight into Wimbledon men’s final on Sunday.

Kyrgios will play the winner of the other semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Cameron Norrie.

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Kyrgios is the first Australian man to make the Wimbledon singles final since Mark Philippoussis in 2003.

Nadal confirmed his withdrawal from the competition after it was reported he had a 7mm tear in his abdomen.

“Unfortunately, as you can imagine, if I am here, I have to pull out from the tournament,” Nadal said in a press conference on Thursday.

“As everybody saw yesterday, I had been suffering with pain in the abdominal. I was not OK there, as yesterday I said. 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. … It’s obvious that if I keep going the injury’s gonna be worse and worse. That’s the thing I can say now and feel very sad to say that.”

Nadal estimated that it will take “three, four weeks” to recover from the injury, but a firm timeline for his return to action was unclear, according to multiple reports.

But he reiterated that he will continue playing.

A meeting between 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal and the mercurial Australian had been on the cards since Kyrgios defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in an ill-tempered third-round meeting.

Kyrgios cruised through his last-eight match against unseeded Chilean Cristian Garin on Wednesday in straight sets to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

But it was a different story for Nadal, who had to battle an abdominal injury in a gruelling five-set win against 11th-seeded American Taylor Fritz.

The second seed, visibly in pain, looked unlikely to finish the match when he was forced to take a medical time-out in the second set.

But he returned to the court and twice recovered from a set down to win in four hours and 21 minutes.

The extra time on court for Nadal – two hours longer than Kyrgios – was a factor in itself but the Spaniard’s injury ultimately meant he would not fit enough to play his semi-final.

Earlier, Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion, said he was unsure over his ongoing participation in the tournament as he targets the third leg of a rare calendar Grand Slam.

“I can’t give you a clear answer because if I gave you a clear answer and tomorrow another thing happens, I will be a liar,” the 36-year-old said after his quarter-final win.

Spanish sports daily Marca reported on Thursday that Nadal has a “seven-millimetre” tear to his abdomen but still intends to play.

He played with a similar injury at the 2009 US Open, where he reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro.

Nadal did turn up for practice after undergoing medical tests in London, although adjusted his schedule to be on an outside court, away from the cameras after turning up 45 minutes later than expected.

Fraser reported Nadal was hitting only forehands and backhand early.

When he tried serving, he was at “nowhere near full power”.

“Never hit the serve at full power and sat down at the end for a long discussion with his team. Going to be tough for him if he plays tomorrow but you can never count him out,” Fraser concluded.

Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim posted that Nadal’s 44 minute practice including 33 minutes of hitting and an 11 minute break.

“Streaming Nadal practice … leaving court five, now posing for photos. the good news for tomorrow, he hit serves … the less good news, this was deeply abbreviated … can‘t imagine – having won last two sets, and last 19 matches at Majors – he won’t give it a shot tomorrow,” Wertheim wrote.

However, others were stunned Nadal was still going.

Following a stress fracture of his rib in March and finishing the French Open with a left foot injury that required needling throughout, Nadal has battled through this season but claimed both grand slam events this season and is on track for a rare Grand Slam, a clean sweep of all four major tournaments.

This is despite his team and family seemingly calling for Nadal to quit against Fritz.

Former World No. 1 and US Open champion Tracy Austin had a theory why Nadal is persevering with the injuries — that he is set to announce his retirement in the near future.

“I didn’t think he was going to finish (against Fritz),” Austin said on BBC.

“I really thought he was going to retire. You got to remember Rafael Nadal won the Australian Open and the French Open so he‘s halfway to the Calendar Grand Slam.

“He’s also 36 years old. So at 36, Rafa’s had so many problems with his foot. He had a procedure to numb the nerve right before Wimbledon and did not know if he’d be able to play Wimbledon.

“At this stage, he may be thinking, ‘A year from now, I don’t know if I’ll still be playing. I don’t want to finish Wimbledon and my last match retiring’. So he hung in there. The serve speed went way down, into the 90s and he just got the serve in.

“Then he had to rely on a huge forehand and just guile coming to the net, the slices and basically battling, being the warrior that he is.”

Kyrgios’s tournament has been defined by breathtaking shot-making but also his familiar rants on court – including a demand that Tsitsipas be thrown out of the championships for hitting a ball into the crowd.

The 40th-ranked player has been fined a total of $14,000 and he now has the added distraction of a looming court appearance in Australia, related to an allegation of assault.

Nadal has six wins against Kyrgios in nine meetings between the pair. The Australian famously beat Nadal – then world number one – on his way to the Wimbledon quarter-finals on his debut in 2014 but the Spaniard took his revenge in 2019.

Kyrgios, 27, had said he believed the match against Nadal would be the “most-watched of all time”.

“We’ve had some absolute battles on that Centre Court,” he said. “He’s won one against me and I’ve won one against him.

“Obviously, we know, two completely different personalities. I feel like we respect the hell out of each other, though. I feel like that would be a mouth-watering kind of encounter for everyone around the world.”

Originally published as Rafael Nadal withdraws from Wimbledon with injury, putting Nick Kyrgios in the final

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