Wimbledon (UK) – This time it’s his abs that Rafael Nadal has pain, but he gritted his teeth on Wednesday and qualified for the semi-finals of Wimbledon where he will find the volcanic Nick Kyrgios who has ” found the opening” to the last square.
In the women’s draw, Simona Halep secured her ticket to the semi-finals three years after her title and will face Moscow-born Kazakh Elena Rybakina.
For Nadal, the quarters almost ended prematurely not because of his left foot, which made him suffer so much in the spring to the point of making him consider retirement, but because of his abs.
“The body, in general, is fine but I have something in the abdominals”, explained without further details – he wears large sticky bands under his t-shirt – the 36-year-old Spaniard, after his victory in the super fifth set tie-break against American Taylor Fritz (14th) 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10/4).
“I thought several times that I wouldn’t finish the game, but the public, with the energy they sent me, allowed me to go all the way,” he added.
Nadal also had to find “a way to serve a little differently” as the pain made his usual gesture impossible to perform.
The match was not of immense quality of play, but of a rare dramatic intensity, until the super tie-break where Nadal finally played great tennis to end with a signature forehand.
– Let the train pass –
After winning the first two Grand Slam tournaments, at the Australian Open and at Roland-Garros, he is only two games away from adding a 23rd Major to his incredible list.
But for the double winner (2008 and 2010), the biggest obstacles on the road to a third trophy on the London lawn are still ahead.
Starting with the turbulent Nick Kyrgios (40th) who awaits him in the semi-finals on Friday.
“I hope I will be ready to play this match. Nick is a very great player on all surfaces, but especially on grass. He is having a great season on grass and I will absolutely have to be at 100% physically to have my chances,” said Nadal, who will play his sixth half in London.
Kyrgios, he accesses for the first time at 27 years old and after two lost quarters (Wimbledon 2014 and Australian Open 2015) to this last four in Grand Slam.
“I never imagined being in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament, I thought I had let the train pass, that I had missed the opening…”, he admitted. A few minutes earlier, he savored lying on his back with his arms crossed his victory 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) against the Chilean Cristian Garin (43rd).
– Halep at its best –
Unique in his game, his attitude, his expression, Kyrgios is also unique in his preparation: he plays without a coach and therefore will not have one to prepare for this semi-final against Nadal.
“I don’t have a coach because I wouldn’t want to put that weight on anyone’s shoulders. No one knows my tennis as well as I do,” he explained.
Kyrgios thus becomes the first Australian to enter the last four at Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.
He is also the worst-ranked player to play the semis since the 2008 edition when Marat Safin, 75th in the world, and Rainer Schuettler, 94th, both made it there.
The semi-final at the top of the women’s table will therefore pit Simona Halep, 18th in the world and 2019 winner, against newcomer Elena Rybakina (23rd).
The Romanian, who had not played at Wimbledon since her title, dominated American Amanda Anisimova (25th) 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday.
“I’m definitely playing my best tennis. I’m trying to regain my self-confidence,” said Halep, a former world No.1 whose recent seasons have been disrupted by injuries and who has been working since April. with Patrick Mouratoglou, the former coach of Serena Williams.
Opposite Thursday, she will have in Rybakina a young 23-year-old opponent with devastating service who qualified for her first Grand Slam semi-final by beating Australian Ajla Tomljanovic (44th) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.