Wimbledon: Ailing Nadal edges Fritz; Kyrgios awaits in semis

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his quarterfinal match against Taylor Fritz of the US. Photo: Reuters/ Hannah Mckay

London: A hurting Rafa Nadal exhibited heroic mental strength to edge American 11th seed Taylor Fritz in a final set tiebreaker during a captivating Wimbledon quarterfinal contest on Wednesday to keep alive his quest for a calendar year Grand Slam.

Struggling with an abdominal injury, Nadal appeared close to retiring mid-match on Centre Court but found the will to beat the 24-year-old Fritz 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 (10-4) in four hours and 20 minutes to set up a semifinal showdown against Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios.

Fritz, who beat Nadal in the final at Indian Wells to put an end to the Spaniard's 20-match winning run at the start of the 2022 season, overturned an early deficit to race through the opening set, winning five straight games from 1-3, 0-30 down.

The 36-year-old Nadal, who won the Australian and French Open titles back-to-back this year for the first time in his career, left the court for a medical time-out for an abdominal issue with his father fervently urging him from the player's box to put an end to his misery.

But the two-time former Wimbledon champion paid no heed to the requests and returned to the packed showcourt amid huge applause and then broke Fritz in the 12th game to level the match at one set apiece.

Still struggling while serving, Nadal was broken two times as the American bagged the third set comfortably.

Not ready to throw in the towel yet, Nadal traded two breaks before claiming the American's serve a third time to force a deciding fifth set.

With the crowd firmly behind him, Nadal converted his fourth breakpoint in the seventh game to take the lead and stared back at his player's box. But Fritz once again broke back to force a fitting 10-point deciding tiebreaker.

The 22-time major winner surged 5-0 ahead in the tiebreaker, then won a 25-shot rally amid raucous applause and converted his second matchpoint with a stinging forehand winner to secure a memorable victory.


Nick Kyrgios
Australia's Nick Kyrgios in action during his quarterfinal match against Chile's Cristian Garin. Photo: Reuters/ Paul Childs

Composed Kyrgios overpowers Garin
Nick Kyrgios reached the first Grand Slam semifinal of his chequered career with a comfortable 6-4 6-3 7-6(5) victory over Chile's Cristian Garin.

The unseeded 27-year-old lost the opening nine points on Court One but ultimately had too much firepower for Garin who had hoped to become Chile's first Wimbledon semi-finalist.

In surpassing his previous best Wimbledon run to the quarter-finals eight years ago, Kyrgios becomes the first Australian man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Lleyton Hewitt at the 2005 U.S. Open.

On the eve of the match, Kyrgios was summoned to appear in a Canberra court next month on an alleged common assault charge, hardly ideal preparation for one of his biggest matches.

But any off-court distractions he managed to put to one side in a relatively low-volume display sprinkled occasionally with the instinctive shot-making that makes him such a draw.

As in his five-set win over American Brandon Nakashima in the previous round, Kyrgios kept his volatile temperament under wraps, although he regularly lambasted his sizeable entourage as the match dragged on, calling for more support.

Once again his serve underpinned his game, digging him out of trouble whenever Garin threatened to drag himself back into a contest that drifted away from him after his fast start.

Kyrgios saved eight of the nine break points he faced, including two at 4-4 in the first set.

Garin, who beat Kyrgios's compatriot Alex De Minaur from two sets down in the previous round, battled hard to extend the third set to a tiebreaker and led 5-3 in it before Kyrgios hit back to win the last four points.

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