Rafa Nadal’s hopes of completing a rare calendar year Grand Slam ended on Thursday when the Spaniard pulled out of his highly-anticipated Wimbledon semi-final showdown against Australian Nick Kyrgios with an abdominal strain.
Nadal won the Australian and French Opens back-to-back this year for the first time in his career and was bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar-year slam.
“Unfortunately, I have to pull out from the tournament,” the dejected Spaniard told reporters at a hastily arranged news conference, less than 24 hours before his semi-final.
“As everybody saw yesterday (in the quarter-final), I have been suffering with abdominal pain. I knew something was not okay there. Yeah, that’s confirmed. I have a tear in the muscle in the abdomen.
“I was thinking during the whole day about the decision to make.”
With the Spaniard’s withdrawal, unseeded 27-year-old Kyrgios became the first Australian to reach the men’s singles final at the All England Club since Mark Philippoussis in 2003.
Kyrgios will take on either top seed Novak Djokovic, who is bidding for a fourth straight and seventh overall title on the manicured lawns of Wimbledon, or local hope Cameron Norrie in Sunday’s final. Their semi-final is scheduled for Friday.
The winner of a men’s record 22 Grand Slam titles said it did not make sense to continue as it was evident he could not have been competitive.
“Even if I tried a lot of times during my career to keep going under very tough circumstances, in that one I think it’s obvious that if I keep going the injury is going to be worse and worse,” he said. “I feel very sad to say that.”
Nadal only confirmed his Wimbledon participation after radio frequency treatment eased the pain in his foot.
Nadal appeared in a more cheerful mood when he left the Wimbledon premises, stopping to pose for pictures and thanking the staff in the player reception area and at the exit doors.
It was another year when he left the grounds empty-handed, having won the last of his two Challenge Cups way back in 2010.