Despite a medical hiatus that raised fears that he might withdraw, Spanish fourth-ranked Rafael Nadal overcame his pain and reached the semifinals of Wimbledon’s third grand slam by winning the “Super Thai Break” from his American rival Taylor Fritz, to meet Australian “mischievous” Nick Kyrgios, who is playing his first semifinal at the Grand Slam.
After losing the first set and a medical break in the second, Nadal defeated Fritz 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10/4), in a close match that lasted four hours and 21 minutes. †
Nadal is aiming for his third consecutive Grand Slam title after winning the Australian Open earlier this year and then France’s Roland Garros last month, boosting his earnings to 22 major titles.
The Spaniard previously won two Wimbledon titles on grass, in 2008 and 2010.
Nadal started the match strong, leading 3-1 in five consecutive games into the 11th series, losing the first set.
The two players exchanged breaks in the second set, but Nadal was uncomfortable with his moves and when he advanced 4-3 he sat in his chair shaking his head and watching his team.
The Spaniard then took a medical break to treat what appeared to be an abdominal injury.
On his return, Fritz managed to serve, with Nadal playing on with an uneasy move.
But the Spaniard held his serve comfortably twice to lead to 6-5, and then backhanded the second set in his favor to cheers from the crowd.
In the third set, Nadal (36 years old) committed a double fault, comforting his opponent, who returned and won the third set.
In the fourth, Nadal tied the score, and the two headed for a deciding marathon set that reached the “Super Thai Break” after a 6-6 draw, with Nadal going 10-4 in his favor.
“I thought for a moment that I wouldn’t be able to finish the game,” said the Spaniard afterwards.
“I really enjoy playing similar matches for you. I can’t thank you enough for the support.”
Kyrgios to catch the “ship”
And he will meet Spaniard Kyrgios, who defeated Chilean Christian Garin in three clean sets, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).
“I never thought I would be in the semi-finals of a major tournament,” Kyrgios said after the game. I thought the ship had sailed without me, and I might have missed that little window into my career.
“I’m glad I could come here with my team and put in a good performance. I felt like I was too defensive. Yarn is a scary player. I’ve been lucky with my breakpoints, so I’ll take those and prepare for my next game.”
Kyrgios, who rose to fame when he defeated Nadal in the tournament when he was ranked 144th eight years ago, is the first Australian player to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.
Kyrgios kicked off the match amid a new wave of controversy as it appears he will appear in an Australian court next month to be questioned over allegations of assault.
Halep for a third major title
In the women’s league, Romanian Simona Halep, the former world number one and currently 18, reached the semifinals for the third time in her career, beating Anisimova (25) 6-2 6-4, three years after winning of the title on English lawn.
At the age of thirty, Halep is looking for her third major title, knowing she will be crowned in 2018 in the dirt Roland Garros, and in the last square meets Kazakh Elena Rybakina (23) who defeated Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic (44). 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, who reached the semi-finals of the first major tournament of her career.
“It’s nice to be in the semi-finals again,” said Halep.
Rybakina, for her part, commented after qualifying for the semi-finals: “It’s unreasonable. I’m happy to have reached the semi-finals after a difficult game.”
Rybakina was born in Moscow and is currently 23. She became the first player from Kazakhstan for both men and women to reach the semifinals of the “Grand Slam”.
Rybakina, who decided to defend Kazakhstan instead of Russia in 2018, had previously reached the quarter-finals of France’s Roland Garros 2021, but failed to get past the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
“I started slow and my serve wasn’t good in the beginning. Maybe because I was a little nervous.”