Twenty-two-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal outlasted eleventh seed Taylor Fritz 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 (10-4) in a five-set thriller over center court at Wimbledon on Wednesday.
The match started well for the Spaniard as he broke his American opponent’s serve at the start of the first set. However, Fritz responded and clinched five successive games to win the first set 6-3.
With Fritz leading 4-3 in the second set, a coach was called to the court to assess the two-time Wimbledon champion. He eventually used a medical time out and left court to seek treatment. Despite those struggles, Nadal roared to win the second as he broke down in the final game to win 7-5, tying the deal at one set apiece.
After comfortably winning the third set 6-3, Fritz was on the verge of victory as he took a 5-4 lead in the fourth set with Nadal serving to extend the game.
Nadal did just that, winning the next three games to force a decisive fifth set.
In the fifth, the pair were tied at 4-4 before Fritz, 24, again found his way to a 5-4 lead, and Nadal extended the game. As he has done time and time again, the Spaniard went one more game to equalize at 5-5 apiece and eventually forced a tiebreaker for the game.
From there, Nadal moved past Fritz, taking a 5-0 lead before winning the tie-break 10-4.
“The body in general is fine, of course in the abdominals something is wrong… I had to find a way to serve a little different. For many moments I thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to finish the game but, on the pitch, the energy (is) something else, so yes,” Nadal said during the interview on field.
With the win, Nadal moves to 8-0 in the Wimbledon quarter-finals and becomes the third Open Era man to reach the Wimbledon singles semi-finals aged 36 or older.
Nadal was forced to pull out of Wimbledon in 2021 due to fatigue and is aiming for a record 23rd Grand Slam men’s singles title and a third at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
In the other men’s quarter-final on Wednesday, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios defeated Chile’s Cristian Garin in straight sets, 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-5) to reach a semi-final at a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. The 27-year-old also becomes the first male Australian player to reach the Wimbledon semi-final in 17 years.
“I just thought I would never be a semi-final of a Grand Slam. Honestly, I thought my boat had sailed. Obviously I didn’t do great things earlier in my career and I I may have ruined that little window, but you know, (I’m) really proud of how I just came back here and with my team just to be able to put on a performance,” Kyrgios said after the game.
Nadal will play in the semi-final against Kyrgios on center court on Friday.