Rafael Nadal overcomes injury and Taylor Fritz to reach Wimbledon semi-finals

Spaniard wins five-set-thriller but abdominal problem means he is doubt for Kyrgios clash

Rafael Nadal celebrates after beating Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. AFP
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Rafael Nadal overcame an injury to beat Taylor Fritz and reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for an eighth time on Wednesday, keeping alive his dream of a calendar Grand Slam.

Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, will play maverick Australian Nick Kyrgios for a place in Sunday's final.

He admitted he was suffering from an abdominal problem during his draining 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 victory on Centre Court.

“For a lot of moments I was thinking I would not be able to finish the match but the crowd, the energy, thanks for that,” said the Spaniard.

“I honestly enjoy a lot playing these kind of matches in front of you guys. I can't thank you enough for the support.”

A pumped-up Nadal raced out of the blocks to take a 3-1 lead but then lost five straight games to the 11th seed to lose the first set.

The players swapped breaks in the second set but Nadal was not moving freely and when leading 4-3 he sat down on his chair, shaking his head at his team.

The trainer came on before Nadal left the court for a medical timeout to treat what appeared his injury.

When he returned, Fritz served out to love, with Nadal's movement still looking hampered.

But the Spaniard twice held serve comfortably to lead 6-5 and a backhand volley into the open court sealed the second set, to roars from the crowd.

Nadal, 36, was now moving more freely but the pendulum swung again early in the third set when the two-time Wimbledon winner double-faulted to hand his American opponent a break.

The trainer returned, this time to attend to strapping on his Fritz's left thigh and the American resumed playing, breaking again to take the third set.

There were five breaks in a topsy-turvy fourth set as both players struggled for consistency on their serve but Nadal came out on top to level the match.

The first six games of the deciding set went with serve before Nadal produced a backhand drop shot winner to break after a hard-fought seventh game.

Fritz broke back straight away when Nadal netted with a backhand.

The set went to a tiebreak and Nadal seized control, racing into a 9-3 lead and completing the win on his second match point.

Nadal, who has already won the Australian Open and the French Open this year, is halfway to the first calendar Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver in 1969.

He is also bidding to win his 23rd Grand Slam title and equal Serena Williams in second place on the all-time list for most Grand Slam singles titles. Margaret Court is the leader on 24 titles.

Updated: July 06, 2022, 7:14 PM