Rafael Nadal defies severe pain but fears his Wimbledon might be over

Nadal's injury - Simon Stacpoole/Offside
Rafael Nadal admits he is "concerned" about playing Nick Kyrgios in Friday's Wimbledon semi-final after a stomach injury plagued him so much he was forced to alter his serving action.
Despite the Spaniard completing a stunning five-set comeback win over world No. 14 Taylor Fritz in a match so painful and grueling that even his father Sebastian urged him to resign, the Spaniard was dejected at what in terms of his chances of backing up such a feat Kyrgios.
"To be honest, I'm worried now," Nadal said. "I'll do some more tests. In my tennis career I'm used to having things, enduring pain and playing with problems. Knowing that when I feel something like this, it's because something isn't right in my stomach area. Without a doubt, this was the worst day. There was a significant increase in pain and disability.”
Such was the need in the second set that Nadal's father Sebastian, from the stands, begged him to give up this quarter-final for his own benefit, making a 'quit' gesture with his hand. "They told me I had to withdraw from the match, yes," he said. "But it was hard for me to give up in the middle of the game. It wasn't easy, even though I've had this idea for so long. I've done it a few times in my career and it's something I hate. So I just keep trying and that's it.”
Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts in his quarterfinal match against Taylor Fritz - REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
The agonizing toll of that 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-4) victory that lasted 4 hours and 20 minutes was written all over his face. On serve, he struggled so visibly that his top speed was 40 km/h slower than Fritz, forcing him to adjust his movement. In the end, admonished by an ecstatic crowd on center court, he played on pure adrenaline after refusing his coach's attempts to intervene.
"To be honest, there's not much they can do," he said. “The doctor came and gave me anti-inflammatories and painkillers. The physio was just trying to relax the muscle a bit. But it's tricky - nothing can be fixed when you have something like this. Leaving the tournament isn't easy. Leaving Wimbledon isn't easy, even if the pain is tough. I wanted to finish. Well I prefer to win. I fought. I'm proud of the fighting spirit and how I've managed to be competitive in these conditions."
Nadal is aiming for both his third straight major title and a record-extending 23rd overall. There's also strong motivation to try to become the second man to reach the calendar grand slam after Rod Laver - who stood here on center court to applaud this rousing triumph. “Fortunately, I was able to adapt to the circumstances to stay competitive. That's something I'm happy about."
Rod Laver and Bob Hewitt at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 6 - Karwai Tang/WireImage
The nagging doubt is whether he will be able to take on Kyrgios, the spirited and controversial Australian who reached his maiden Wimbledon semi-final by beating Chilean Cristian Garin in straight sets. The pair have a checkered history at the All England Club: Kyrgios, who beat him here eight years ago as a 19-year-old, enraged him in 2019 by serving under his arms and peppering him with shots to the body.
"I don't know," Nadal said with a rueful smile when asked if he would compete for the semifinals. "I can't give you a straight answer because if I do and then something else happens, I'll be a liar."
Fritz, knowing that Nadal was physically weakened here, was devastated by the defeat but still found it within himself to applaud his conqueror's resilience. "It probably hurts more than any loss I've ever had," said the California native. "I'm confident to say this is number 1 because literally after the game was over I sat there wanting to cry. I've never felt like this after a loss.
“His movement wasn't that explosive for a couple of games. Once he got a feel for the injury, he knew it would only really affect him on serve and he could play through from behind. His serve dropped 10.15 mph. From the ground I thought he was money in the third, fourth and fifth sets. He moved really well. I absolutely yanked the ball into the corners and he ran and yanked them right past me for winners. He was incredible.”
Rafael Nadal
Spanish tennis player
Nick Kyrgios
Australian tennis player
American tennis player

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