Wimbledon 2022: Rafael Nadal battles injury to win 5-set thriller

Normally so relentless from point to point, Rafael Nadal occasionally looked the ball off Taylor Fritz's racket in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Recovering from a stomach problem for which he took a medical timeout, Nadal was unable to move as he usually does. His trademark “Uhhh!” It was rare that he didn't make the typical zip in his serves, which dropped from a high of 120 mph to barely 100 mph. He sought to end exchanges with a quick-strike forehand or drop shot — sometimes with success, more often than not.

With the 22-time major champion cheering loudly, roaring and backing Nadal after his best stroke, Nadal found a way to hang in there and twice erased a one-set deficit against 11th-seeded Fritz, going up 3. -6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-4) reached his eighth semi-final at the All England Club.

Nadal extends his unbeaten mark in Grand Slam matches to 19-0 in 2022 as he looks to add a trophy at Wimbledon to his wins at the Australian Open in January, then the French Open in June. For all he has achieved, the 36-year-old Spaniard has never won the first three Slam titles in one season.

On Friday, Nadal will meet 27-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios who will make his Grand Slam semi-final debut after a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over Chilean Christian Garin.

The other men's semifinal pits No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 9 Cam Norrie.

In the women's semifinals on Thursday, 2019 champion Simona Halep will play No. 17 Elena Rybakina and No. 3 Ounce Jabeur will play Tatjana Maria.

Halep bounced back by beating No. 20 American Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-4 and Rybakina 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 over Ajla Tomljanovic.

Nadal leads Kyrgios 6-3 in their head-to-head series, but they are at 1-all at Wimbledon: Kyrgios, just 19 and ranked 144th, announced the stunning Nadal to the world in 2014; Nadal won the rematch in 2019.

Credit Kyrgios for being honest: even he didn't think this day would come. Kyrgios became the first unseeded and lowest-ranked man to reach the final four at the All England Club since 2008, which equates to a restrained and efficient brand of tennis for him.

“I thought my ship had sailed,” Kyrgios said. “Obviously, I didn't go very well early in my career and maybe blew that little window. But I'm really proud of how I came back here.”

Kyrgios, who is ranked 40th, has attracted more attention for his demeanor on and off the court than his skills with a racket in hand. Kyrgios will appear in court next month to face charges of common assault stemming from something that happened in December after his match against Garin, 26, of Chile, in Canberra, Australia.

“I have a lot of thoughts, a lot of things I want to say, my side of it,” Kyrgios said in his post-match press conference on Wednesday. “Obviously I've been advised by my lawyers that I can't say anything at the moment.”

After his first-round win at Wimbledon last week, Kyrgios was fined $10,000 for spitting at a spectator. As controversial as his third-round win over No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was, Kyrgios was fined another $4,000 for an audible profanity; Later, Tsitsipas calls him a “thug” and “wicked”.

Also worth noting is how well Kyrgios is playing. His serve, in particular, is among the best in the game, routinely topping 130 mph, and he hit 17 aces against Garin while breaking just once — in the first game, at love.

His big forehands are also great, but nothing else about Kyrgios is conventional. An example: “I don't have a coach,” Kyrgios said with a smile. “I would never put that burden on anyone.”

Reporting by the Associated Press

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