WIMBLEDON – Touché aux abdos, Nadal s'arrache pour battre Fritz et rejoindre Kyrgios en demies

WIMBLEDON – Touché aux abdos, Nadal s’arrache pour battre Fritz et rejoindre Kyrgios en demies

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Between Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz, it’s definitely a story of “drama”, a story of injuries! Remember: last March, in the Indian Wells final, the American had inflicted his very first defeat of the year on a Rafael Nadal who had just torn an intercostal muscle to beat his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in half. The Spaniard had been released for an absence of a month and a half. This Wednesday, in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, he believed that the nightmare was going to happen again since he injured his abdominals from the start of the match, to the point of seeming on the verge of abandonment in the middle of the 2nd set. .

Except that Rafa, with the help of a life-saving medical intervention, with the help also of a very conciliatory adversary unable to finish him, did with the means at hand to stay alive, we don’t know how everything. throughout the match to finally crucify his opponent at the end of the super tie-break of the 5th set, winning in five sets (3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6) in 4h21 . The Spaniard thus finds himself almost miraculously in the semi-finals of Wimbledon as in his last two appearances, in 2018 and 2019 (beaten then by Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer). There he will find his “old enemy” Nick Kyrgios and quite frankly, he will have to prepare the popcorn.

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How is it that Rafael Nadal is still alive in this tournament, this Wednesday evening, to try to become at 36 the oldest Wimbledon winner in the Open era – he is currently the third oldest to reach the semis after Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer – and thus pursue his Grand Slam dreams? He owes it to his legendary fighting spirit, of course. But he also owes it to an opponent who failed to finish him and who let himself be distracted like a “blue” by his opponent’s physical procrastination.

Nadal gritted his teeth, Fritz tightened the game: the summary of the final

Because after a hot start (3-1, 0/30), we quickly understood that Rafa had a problem when we saw him lose the next five games by multiplying the unforced errors. The injury became evident when we saw him come back up from 3-0 to 3-3 in the 2nd set, hold his knees after a missed first serve and then take a medical time-out off the court at 4-3 in his favor . Foot ? No, the abs…

While his clan told him to give up, Rafa wanted to try, even if on his return to the court, he seemed unable to serve and barely fetch the balls. But Fritz then showed a guilty allegiance by “forgetting” to finish this 2nd set. Gradually, no doubt thanks to the effect of painkillers, Nadal regained a little more mobility, enough to make a decisive break and conclude this 2nd set. That in itself was already amazing.

Rafael Nadal with the physio during his quarter against Taylor Fritz

Credit: Getty Images

Remember, Djoko’s abs…

But we hadn’t seen anything yet. A quick break in the 3rd set allowed Fritz to break away two sets to one and we thought that after procrastinating a bit, he had regained his senses in time to put it all together. Nay. The drama reached its heights in the 4th set, enamelled with five breaks, in which the American, after having nevertheless gone from 2-4 to 5-4 in his favor (even passing three points from the match in this game), fell back into his failings. Once again, Nadal springs from his box to return to two sets everywhere.

The 5th set was probably the best of all, without being perfectly linear either. Nadal, somewhat invigorated and more able to let go of his first, looked to take a decisive advantage when he broke at 3-3. But Fritz, with a nice start, returned immediately, and the case ended up being concluded in a super tie-break. More solid mentally, the Spaniard immediately widened the gap (5-0) but was still very happy to see his opponent pull out a backhand when he had managed to come back to 5-3. Rafa then lost only one point to finally conclude with a last service/forehand sequence (10 points to 4)

Poor Taylor Fritz, who will probably “nightmare” abs all night since, let’s remember, it was already against him that Novak Djokovic injured his abs in the 3rd round during his victorious Australian Open in 2021, before winning in five sets and winning the title. Can Rafael Nadal achieve the same feat? It’s hard to say again in the absence of a precise medical report, and let’s be sure that we won’t have it before the end of the tournament. But the Spaniard still looked pretty touched. And it will be a question of not being it in half against a Nick Kyrgios on his side all fire, all flame to beat Cristian Garin.

In the meantime, Rafael Nadal remains undefeated in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and climbs for the 8th time in the semi-finals in the Temple, thus equalizing the “score” of John McEnroe and Pete Sampras. Not bad, for an earthling and with one less abs.

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