Eurosport’s Mats Wilander and Alex Corretja have previewed Nick Kyrgios taking on Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon semi-finals after the Spaniard battled through against Taylor Fritz despite suffering an abdominal injury.
The second seed somehow managed to continue his quest to secure a historic Calendar Slam in 2022 after he roared back to beat Fritz in a marathon quarter-final. It took all of Nadal’s famous mental strength and physical resilience to come through the encounter with a scoreline of 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 to reach the semi-finals.
The legendary Spaniard, who was looking to win his third Grand Slam singles title in succession after his incredible triumphs at the Australian Open and French Open already this year, took a medical timeout at 4-3 up in the second set. He battled on valiantly and managed to overcome the American in a final-set thriller.
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Kyrgios continued his remarkable charge at Wimbledon with a straight-sets victory over Cristian Garin of Chile on Wednesday evening. The unseeded star, who has had a hugely dramatic campaign already at the All England Club, held his composure throughout on Court 1 to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam singles event for the first time in his career. Wilander believes he will be a “nightmare” opponent for Nadal.
“It’s impossible to say [if Nadal will recover in time to play Nick Kyrgios], but I remember we did a famous interview on Philippe-Chatrier after the final a few weeks ago and he said he had a couple of injections in his foot and his foot was put to sleep,” Wilander said.
“Can you do that with your abdominal muscles? Maybe he can still figure out a way to serve at a decent speed? I am assuming he is not going to hit any tennis balls tomorrow and he’s going to take it very easy and recover.
“Who is the nightmare opponent when you are feeling like this? Novak Djokovic, yes. But also Nick Kyrgios. It’s the worst news ever.
“With Nick Kyrgios, we never talk about the way he moves because he doesn’t play that many matches – he moves incredibly well. He’s a great athlete, the hands that he has, and the shot-making skills were absolutely incredible. There was very little talking to his box, he was very controlled.”
Corretja added: “This is unreal, this is epic. Only if you are Rafa Nadal are you able to know how to win this match – I have no clue how he did it, honestly. You could see Rafa was struggling with his abdominals, he probably played better when he was returning because he was using his hands more and hitting the ball a little harder.
“Sometimes when you are tired, instead of using your body you use your wrist and the ball goes even faster – that’s how I think Rafa found a way. Only Rafa Nadal, I think, can stay on the court and manage this type of situation because he is used to suffering so many of these types of injuries throughout his career.”
‘Be prepared for controlled chaos’ – Wilander on how to play Kyrgios at Wimbledon
- ‘I thought my ship had sailed’ – Kyrgios ‘really proud’ after reaching semi-finals
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Nadal said in his on-court interview: “I honestly enjoy a lot playing these kinds of matches in front of you guys, I can’t thank you enough.
“It had been a tough afternoon playing, he’s a great player. All the credit to Taylor, he’s been playing great the whole season. From my personal side, it was not an easy match at all, so I’m just very happy to be in the semi-final.
“The body, in general, is fine. Of course, the abdominal is not going well, I had to find a way to serve a little bit different. For a lot of moments I was thinking, ‘I will not be able to finish the match’, but the court energy was something else.
“Yes, it was a long time ago, but it is impossible not to remember that final with Roger [Federer], all the special moments we shared around the world.
“On this court, we played a couple of the most important matches of our careers, so going back to 2008, it would have been difficult to imagine in 2022 I would still be here at Wimbledon playing, but here I am and I am happy for that.
“First thing, I hope to be ready to play it [the semi-final]. Nick [Kyrgios] is a great player on all surfaces, but especially on grass; he is having a great grass-court season.
“It’s going to be a big challenge and I’m going to need to be at my 100 per cent to have a chance, and that is what I am going to try to do.”
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Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.
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