Rafael Nadal saw his dreams of another Wimbledon title ended by an abdominal injury when he gave Nick Kyrgios a walkover in his first Grand Slam singles final.
Nadal was clearly hampered in his quarterfinal against Taylor Fritz on Wednesday but battled back to a five-set victory.
However, after scans revealed the severity of the problem, the 22-time Grand Slam champion made the decision to retire on Thursday night, saying: “I am very sad and it has been difficult.”
The Spaniard revealed that he has been struggling with the problem for the past week, but it got significantly worse against Fritz and he was worried about causing more damage.
“I was thinking all day about the decision to be made,” Nadal said. “But I think there is no point in continuing.
“Even though I tried many times during my career to keep going under very difficult circumstances, I think it’s obvious that if I keep going, the injury will get worse and worse.
“I made my decision because I think I can’t win two games under these circumstances. I can’t serve. It’s not just that I can’t serve at the right speed, it’s that I can’t make the normal move to serve.
“(Also) out of respect for myself in a way, I don’t want to go out, not be competitive enough to play at the level I need to achieve my goal, and with a great opportunity to do things. much worse.
“A couple of weeks ago my career was very complicated due to the foot injury. Now things are better in that case. That is the most dangerous thing that can stop my tennis career today.
“For me the most important thing is happiness more than any title, even if everyone knows how much effort I put in to be here. But I can’t risk that match and stay two or three months out of the competition because that’s going to be difficult for me.”
The concerns first arose during Nadal’s fourth-round victory over Botic van de Zandschulp when a tape was seen on his abdomen.
He took a medical timeout during the second set of his clash with Fritz and defied his family’s gestures to call it a day, but admitted afterwards that he had considered retiring several times.
After winning the Australian Open and French Open titles, Nadal had the chance to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to claim the calendar Grand Slam, but said: “I never thought about the calendar Grand Slam .
“I did all the things in the best possible way to give myself a chance here. I’m in the semifinals, so I’m playing very well the last few days. Especially yesterday, at the beginning of the game, playing at a very high level.
“Even that makes me feel a little bit worse because I felt that, playing at the level that I was playing, I would probably have a chance.”
The positive news for Nadal is that he should have fully recovered in three to four weeks, giving him enough time to prepare for the US Open which starts on August 29.
“I hope that these three or four weeks will allow me to do my normal schedule,” he said. “In a week I will be able to play from the baseline. Not serving for a while, of course. In a way that’s a positive thing.”
Nadal’s decision means it is the volatile Australian Kyrgios who advances to a first Grand Slam singles final, where he will face defending champion Novak Djokovic or Britain’s Cameron Norrie.