Rafael Nadal came from behind to beat Taylor Fritz in a five-set quarter-final thriller at Wimbledon as the Spaniard battled injury to keep alive his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam.
Nadal appeared on the verge of withdrawing as he called the trainer to tend to an abdominal issue during the second set, but twice came from a set down against the American to seal a remarkable 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 (10-4) victory in four hours and 20 minutes.
The 36-year-old Spaniard, who won the Australian Open and French Open earlier this year to reach a men’s record 22 Grand Slam singles titles, will face Nick Kyrgios in Friday’s semi-final, after the Australian advanced to the last four for the first time with a straight-sets win over Cristian Garin.
“The body in general is fine, of course in the abdominal something is not going well, being honest,” two-time champion Nadal said on court after the match.
“I have to find a way to serve a little bit different. For a lot of moments I was thinking maybe I will not be able to finish the match.”
“I hope to be ready to play. That’s the first thing. Then, Nick is a great player in all surfaces but especially here on grass. He’s having a great grass-court season. It’s going to be a big challenge, I’m going to need to be at 100 per cent to have chances and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
It was American Fritz, seeded 11, who halted Nadal’s winning start to the season at 20 matches in the Indian Wells final in March when the Spaniard was hampered by a fractured rib, and it appeared history was repeating itself.