Nick Kyrgios is the first Australian to reach the men’s Wimbledon final in 19 years after Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw from the pair’s scheduled semi-final blockbuster with an abdominal tear.
On a day of high drama at the All England Club, Nadal made the crushing decision to pull out on Thursday after being unable to serve properly during a practice session.
The great Spaniard was nine wins away from becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a calendar-year grand slam after adding a 14th French Open crown last month to his epic Australian Open final triumph over Daniil Medvedev in January.
Nadal said he’d carried the stomach muscle injury throughout the first week of the championships before aggravating it during his five-set quarter-final comeback win over American Taylor Fritz.
“As everybody saw yesterday, I have been suffering with the pain in abdominal. I know something was not okay there, as yesterday I said,” Nadal said at a packed news conference on Thursday night.
“That’s confirmed. I have a tear in the muscle in the abdominal. The communication is too late because even like that I was thinking during the whole day about the decision to make.
“But I think it’s doesn’t make sense to go (on). Even if I tried lot of times during my career to keep going under very tough circumstances, in this one I think it’s obvious that if I keep going, the injury going to be worse and worse.
“That’s the thing that I can say now. Feel very sad to say that.”
After agonising about the call, the 22-times grand slam champion said he finally decided to pull out after accepting he had no hope of winning the Wimbledon title for a third time.
“I believe that I can’t win two matches under these circumstances,” said Nadal, who reigned at SW19 in 2008 and 2010.
“I can’t serve. Is not only that I can’t serve at the right speed, it’s that I can’t do the normal movement to serve.
“I have to say that, (I cannot) imagine myself winning two matches and, for respect to myself in some way, I don’t want to go out there, not be competitive enough to play at the level that I need to play to achieve my goal.”
The setback comes after Nadal only made it to the Wimbledon start line at the last minute after overcoming a chronic foot injury that made his latest Roland Garros triumph even more incredible.
“As I always said, for me the most important thing is happiness more than any title, even if everybody knows how much effort I put to be here,” he said.
“But I can’t risk that match and stay two, three months outside of the competition because that’s going to be a tough thing for me.”
Nadal’s withdrawal leaves Kyrgios a win away from capturing an elusive first grand slam final in what will be the 27-year-old’s maiden major final.
Tennis’s most exciting and unfulfilled talent will face either three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic or British ninth seed Cameron Norrie in Sunday’s title match.
They clash on Friday in what would have been the curtain-raiser for the Kyrgios-Nadal match that the Australian had predicted would be the “most watched match ever”.
Kyrgios has won his only two previous encounters with Djokovic, both in straight sets on hard courts in 2017 at Indian Wells and Acapulco.
But he trails Norrie 2-1 head to head, having lost twice to the Brit in Atlanta, in 2018 and last year, and beaten him at the ATP Cup in Australia in 2020.
Mark Philippoussis was the last Australian to make the men’s Wimbledon final, losing to Roger Federer in 2003 in what was the Swiss maestro’s first of 20 grand slam successes.