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Thursday, August 18, 2022

‘My sister and father told me to retire, but I hate that’

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Rafael Nadal will compete in his eighth Wimbledon semi-final and the 38th at Majors. Rafa needed four hours and 20 minutes to dismiss Taylor Fritz 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 to find himself in the last four. Alongside Taylor, Rafa battled against another opponent, who remains a threat ahead of the semi-final clash versus Nick Kyrgios.

Nadal has been playing under abdominal pain in London, and the injury got worse against the American. Rafa struggled with his initial shot, and things did not look good after the third set. His sister Maribel and father Sebastian were suggesting Rafa to quit, but he decided to stay on the court until the end and fight.

The Spaniard performed another incredible comeback and took sets four and five to emerge at the top and remain on the title course. Both players won 168 points and stayed neck and neck until the deciding match tie break. They had the same number of winners and break chances, and the encounter on Centre Court took everything from both rivals.

Rafa broke early in the opener and served well in his opening two service games for 3-1. Taylor pulled the break back with a forehand down the line winner in game six and gained a boost. Nadal hit a double fault in game eight to experience a break, and Fritz wrapped up the opener in the next one after rattling off five straight games.

Rafa opened a 3-0 lead at the start of the second set, and Taylor erased the deficit to bring the result back to 3-3. Fritz served to stay in the set at 5-6 and experienced a break after Nadal’s volley winner at the net for one set all.

The American played well in the third set, keeping his serve safe and pressuring the Spaniard. He broke Rafa in games three and nine and built a massive advantage after two hours and ten minutes. Nadal spoke with the doctor and decided to continue and at least give his best on the court.

They traded three breaks at the start of the set, and Rafa grabbed two to open a 2-1 gap.

Rafael Nadal overpowered Taylor Fritz despite an injury.

Nadal found himself 4-2 ahead after a comfortable hold in game six before Fritz broke in game eight and locked the result at 4-4 after Rafa’s wayward forehand.

The Spaniard stayed calm and forced the rival’s mistake in the 11th game to move 6-5 ahead. Nadal held at love with a forehand winner in game twelve to secure the set and force a decider after over three hours. Both players served well at the start of the fifth set before Rafa converted the fourth break chance with a drop shot winner in game seven for 4-3.

Taylor pulled the break back already in game eight and grabbed the next one with a backhand crosscourt winner. Rafa served to stay in the match in the next one and responded with a perfect volley winner at the net for 5-5.

Fritz grabbed the 11th game with an ace down the T line, and Nadal held at love with a service winner a few minutes later to lock the result at 6-6. Rafa moved 3-0 up in the match tie break with a forced error before Taylor reduced the deficit to 5-3.

Rafa gained a 6-3 lead after a loose backhand from his rival and grabbed the next point after an extended rally and a volley winner. A forehand down the line winner at 8-3 offered Nadal six match points, and he seized the second with a forehand winner to emerge at the top and celebrate a massive victory.

“My sister and father were telling me to retire. For me, it’s tough to quit in the middle of a match, even though I was thinking about that for a long time. I have done that a couple of times in my career, but I hate doing that. That’s why I kept fighting, wanting to finish the match regardless of the result,” Rafael Nadal said.

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