Rafael Nadal on Thursday pulled out of Wimbledon with an abdominal injury after Ons Jabeur became the first African woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final in modern times.
Nadal’s decision — which hands a place in the men’s singles final to Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios — ends his dreams of a completing a rare calendar-year Grand Slam.
Kyrgios, ranked 40, is to play either top seed and six-time champion Novak Djokovic or British ninth seed Cameron Norrie tomorrow.
Two-time champion Nadal was visibly in pain during his grueling five-set win over American Taylor Fritz on Wednesday and indicated afterward that he might not be able to continue.
Spanish sports daily Marca reported that Nadal had a 7mm tear to his abdomen, but still intended to play.
However, the 36-year-old scheduled a news conference on Thursday evening at the All England Club at which he confirmed he was pulling out.
“Unfortunately, as you can imagine, I am here because I have to pull out from the tournament,” the 2008 and 2010 winner said. “As everyone saw yesterday I have been suffering with a pain in the abdominal and something was not OK there. That is confirmed, I have a tear in the muscle.”
The second seed struggled throughout his match against 11th seed Fritz, but still managed to conjure a 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10/4) win in 4 hours, 21 minutes.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion was given pain relief during the contest and had a medical time-out in the second set, admitting his father and sister had been gesticulating for him to quit.
He practiced at Wimbledon on Thursday, but in his 7:20pm news conference he admitted defeat.
The Spaniard, who said he had had an issue with his abdominal muscles for the past week, admitted he had been struggling with what decision to make all day.
Nadal had been on course to win all four majors in the same year after he won the Australian Open before collecting a 14th French Open crown.
The last man to achieve the feat was Australian Rod Laver in 1969.
However, Nadal said he wanted to put his health first, fearing that playing on would only worsen the injury.
“I never thought about the calendar Slam, I thought about my diary and my happiness,” Nadal said. “I made my decision because I believe that I can’t win two matches under these circumstances. I can’t serve. It’s not only that I can’t serve at the right speed, it’s that I can’t do the normal movement to serve.”
Earlier, Jabeur defeated close friend Tatjana Maria in their women’s singles semi-final and is to play Elena Rybakina in today’s final.
The 27-year-old world No. 2 from Tunisia triumphed 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, while Russian-born Rybakina, representing Kazakhstan, knocked out 2019 champion Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3.
“I’m a proud Tunisian woman standing here,” said Jabeur, who was the first Arab player to make a Grand Slam semi-final.
Before Thursday, South Africans Irene Bowder Peacock, at the 1927 French Open, and Renee Schuurman, at the 1959 Australian Open, were the only African women to have reached a Grand Slam singles final, before the Open era.
“I know in Tunisia they are going crazy right now,” Jabeur said. “I want to see more Arab and African players on the tour. I love the game and I want to share the experience with them.”
Rybakina overpowered Halep, breaking the Romanian four times in a dominant display on Centre Court.
“It was really good — today I was mentally prepared and did everything I could, and it was an amazing match,” the 23-year-old said. “I think it’s going to be a great match [against Jabeur]. She’s a great player, very tricky player. It’s not going to be easy to play against her drop shots and volleys.”
Rybakina switched her nationality to Kazakhstan in 2018 to take advantage of greater financial help.
Russian and Belarusian players were banned from this year’s Wimbledon following the invasion of Ukraine.
In the mixed doubles, American-British duo Desirae Krawczyk and Neal Skupski clinched their second straight Wimbledon title after sweeping aside Australia’s Matthew Ebden and Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-3 on Centre Court.
The second seeds edged a close first set and stepped up their game in the second, roaring back from an early break down to win four consecutive games and wrap up the victory in 1 hour, 27 minutes.
The Australian duo failed to get a foothold in the second set, with Krawczyk’s left-handed serve and Skupski’s deft play at the net causing them constant trouble.
Krawczyk and Skupski became the first pair to successfully defend the mixed doubles title at the All England Club since Czech brother-sister duo Cyril Suk and Helena Sukova in 1997.
“I was a little bit nervous starting off, but I got through that first service game pretty well, serving well, hit a few aces,” said Skupski, who came through a 26-point service game at 2-2 in the opener. “I think that was a very key point in the match to get through that game because if we go down a break there, it can be difficult to win that set, but we kept the momentum and we stayed in it.”
It was the fourth mixed doubles Grand Slam crown for 28-year-old Krawczyk, who won all the majors except the Australian Open last year.
“I am speechless. This has been such a special moment. Two in a row at Wimbledon,” she said.
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