Wimbledon Misses Rafa: Nadal Withdraws with Injury, Leaving a Void on Centre Court
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 9415
As was expected, Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the season's third Major at Wimbledon. The Spaniard has not played since the Australian Open, experiencing a left hip injury and struggling to recover. In his recent press conference, Nadal announced an extended break from tennis ahead of 2024, which should be his last year on the Tour.
The Spaniard is skipping Wimbledon for the fifth time, remaining on two crowns at the All England Club from five finals. The 17-year-old Nadal debuted at Wimbledon in 2003 and reached the third round as one of the youngest players in the Open era.
Rafa lost two finals to Roger Federer in 2006 and 2007 before conquering titles in 2008 and 2010. Nadal's last appearance in the Wimbledon final came in 2011, falling to Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard had a terrible run at Wimbledon between 2012 and 2017, barely winning matches and failing to reach the quarter-final!
Rafa changed that in 2018, 2019 and 2022, advancing into three semi-finals but failing to make another step and fight for the title.
Rafael Nadal withdrew from Wimbledon with an ongoing hip injury.
Nadal came to the last year's Wimbledon after conquering the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
He advanced into the last four in London before withdrawing ahead of the Nick Kyrgios clash due to an abdominal injury. Rafa revealed a seven-millimeter tear in his abdomen and withdrew from the competition. Nadal did not play at his best since the start of the tournament and could not work on his serve as usual.
Rafa lost a set against lower-ranked opponents in the opening rounds and played better against Lorenzo Sonego and Botic Van De Zandschulp. Nadal faced Taylor Fritz in the quarter-final and earned a hard-fought 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 triumph in four hours and 20 minutes for a place in the semi-final.
Rafa barely continued after the third set, struggling with apparent pain. However, he decided to carry on, winning the following two sets after an epic battle to earn his 19th consecutive victory at Majors in 2022! Taylor came from 3-1 down in the opening set and rattled off five straight games for 6-3 and a boost.
Rafa built the advantage in the second set before the youngster climbed back to 3-3. Both players served well in the next games, and Fritz hoped for more at 5-6. Nadal grabbed a late break to wrap up the set and gain a boost.
Taylor took charge in the third set and grabbed a couple of breaks in games three and nine for 6-3. Nadal spoke with the doctor and opted to fight until the end and give himself a chance. The rivals traded three breaks at the start of the fourth set, and Rafa accumulated another for 4-2.
Fritz broke back in game eight and locked the result at 4-4 for more drama. The Spaniard forced the rival's mistake in the 11th game to open a 6-5 gap and held at love with a forehand winner in the next one to force a decider.
Both players served well at the start of the fifth set before Rafa converted the fourth break chance with a drop shot winner for 4-3. Taylor broke back in the next one and moved 5-4 up with a backhand crosscourt winner. Rafa served to stay in the match and landed a perfect volley winner for 5-5, giving everything to survive.
The encounter went into a deciding tie break, and Nadal gained a 7-3 lead after a volley winner. A forehand down the line winner at 8-3 offered Nadal six match points, and he seized the second with a forehand winner to emerge at the top.