Team Says Retire, Rafa Chooses To Inspire
Rafael Nadal’s team implored him to retire after the Spaniard had treatment on an abdominal issue in the second set of his thrilling quarter-final win against Taylor Fritz at Wimbledon on Wednesday. With an unbeaten record at major tournaments in 2022 on the line and just three retirements in his past decade on Tour, however, that decision was never going to sit well with the two-time champion.
“They told me I needed to retire from the match,” said Nadal in his post-match press conference after his dramatic 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(10-4) win. “For me it was tough to retire in the middle of the match. [It was] not easy, even if I had that idea for such a long time.
“I did it a couple of times in my tennis career. It’s something that I hate to do. So, I just kept trying, and that's it.”
Clearly in discomfort and unable to serve at full power on Centre Court, Nadal showcased his trademark resilience to rally and clinch a stunning four-hour, 20-minute victory. He admitted that it was less the medical time-out and more his desire to see things through to the end that enabled him to carry on.
“They can't do much [in the medical time-out], honestly,” said the 36-year-old. “The doctor came, gave me some anti-inflammatories and analgesic. The physio just tried to relax the muscle there a little bit, but it's difficult. Nothing can be fixed when you have a thing like this. That's it.
“I just wanted to give myself a chance. [It is] not easy to leave the tournament, not easy to leave Wimbledon, even if the pain was hard.”
It is the second time in the space of four months that Nadal was facing Fritz carrying an injury. The 92-time tour-level titlist played with a fractured rib in his championship match defeat to the American at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March. Just as on that occasion, his determination to see things through was strong, regardless of the eventual outcome of the match.
“I wanted to finish,” said Nadal. “Doesn't matter. I prefer to win with victory or defeat. That's what I did, I fought. I’m proud of the fighting spirit and the way that I managed to be competitive under those conditions.”
Any potential retirement would not only have cost Nadal his shot at a third Wimbledon crown. The Spaniard is also chasing a historic Grand Slam after he won the Australian Open in January and Roland Garros in June. That goal will be put to the test again in a semi-final clash with Nick Kyrgios, and Nadal was not jumping to any conclusions about his fitness for Friday’s match.
“Tomorrow I‘m going to have some more tests… I had these feelings for a couple of days. Without a doubt, today was the worst day. There has been an important increase of pain and limitation.
“I need to know different opinions and I need to check everything the proper way. That is something more important than winning Wimbledon, that is health. Let's see how this goes.”