Stomach injury forces Rafa Nadal out of Wimbledon handing place in men’s final to Nick Kyrgios where he will play winner of Cameron Norrie v Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal’s bid for the calendar year grand slam is over after he withdrew from Wimbledon due to an abdominal injury.
Painful blow: Rafa Nadal struggled with an abdominal injury during his quarter-final win. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.Painful blow: Rafa Nadal struggled with an abdominal injury during his quarter-final win. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Painful blow: Rafa Nadal struggled with an abdominal injury during his quarter-final win. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

The 22-time grand-slam champion battled through the issue to beat Taylor Fritz in five sets on Wednesday to progress into the semi-finals in SW19 but scans a day later revealed the severity of the injury.

Nadal was set to play Nick Kyrgios in today’s semi-final but his Australian opponent will now receive a walkover into a maiden major final.

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At a press conference on Thursday evening, Nadal said: “Unfortunately as you can imagine I am here because I have to pull out from the tournament.

On the brink: Britain's Cameron Norrie is trying to reach his first Wimbledon final. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.On the brink: Britain's Cameron Norrie is trying to reach his first Wimbledon final. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
On the brink: Britain's Cameron Norrie is trying to reach his first Wimbledon final. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

“As everyone saw yesterday I have been suffering with a pain in the abdominal and something was not OK there. That is confirmed, I have a tear in the muscle and the communication is too late.

“I was thinking the whole day I was thinking about the decision to make but I think it doesn’t make sense to go, even if I try through my career to keep going.

“It is very tough circumstances but it is obvious if I keep going the injury will be worse and worse.”

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Nadal looked set to retire during his quarter-final against American Fritz on Wednesday evening, but somehow recovered to claim a 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 (4) victory after a gruelling four hours and 20 minutes.

The 36-year-old had strapping on his stomach and at times appeared in so much pain that his father and sister, watching from the players’ box, were gesticulating for him to quit the match.

He practised at Wimbledon on Thursday afternoon but, in a 7.20pm press conference, he announced he was unable to continue, ending the Australian Open and French Open champion’s hopes of winning all four majors in the same year.

The Spaniard insisted he made his tough decision due to the abdominal issue preventing him from being able to serve.

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“I never thought about the calendar slam, I thought about my diary and my happiness,” Nadal said.

“I make the decision because I don’t believe I can win two matches under the circumstances. It is not only I can’t serve at the right speed, it is I can’t do the normal movement to serve.

“After that to imagine myself winning two matches, and for respect for myself in some way, I don’t want to go out there and not be competitive enough to play at the level I need to play to achieve my goals.”

Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie hopes his quest for relentless improvement can carry him to a first Wimbledon final.

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The British number one has made a habit of surprising people over the past 18 months but all those achievements would be overshadowed spectacularly should he defeat Novak Djokovic in the last four today.

For a player who found full-time tennis overwhelming when he moved from his home in Auckland, New Zealand to London as a teenager and made it to the professional game via US college, there is a real appreciation for what this fortnight has brought so far.

“It’s very cool, especially when I made the quarter-finals the other day,” he said. “I was thinking about when I was a kid and watching guys on TV making the quarter-finals and thinking, ‘Wow, this looks so tough to do, and there’s almost zero chance I’m going to do that’.

“But just to actually be doing it and to be living it and experiencing it is very cool and pretty crazy, actually”.

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Norrie was the highest seed left in his section of the draw from the second round and his highest-ranked opponent so far has been 30th seed Tommy Paul, so Djokovic undoubtedly represents a huge jump in class.

They have only played once before, at the ATP Finals last November, where Djokovic dropped just three games.

“It’s going to be a tough one against Novak obviously, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Norrie.

“I think I’m going to take it to him. I think last time I played him in Turin in another big tournament, he played very good and I think I learned a lot from that.

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“I think I’m going to approach it a little bit differently tactically.”

Djokovic’s record at Wimbledon makes rather frightening reading for an opponent. Since losing to Andy Murray in the 2013 final, he has lost just one completed match - to Sam Querrey in 2016, when he suffered a mental let-down after finally winning the French Open.

Norrie can boast many good people in his corner, including Murray, who is one of the very few players to twice beat Djokovic in grand slam finals.

“Andy has been super supportive to me and my team,” said Norrie. “I’m always practising with him and always reaching out to him for ideas. I think not a bad guy to ask about some tactics.”

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As a player known for his work ethic and desire to wring every drop out of his talent, it is no surprise that Murray is willing to invest time in helping Norrie.

“Every time I’ve been on court with him or around him, he’s had a top-class attitude,” Murray told the Evening Standard. “He gets the most out of every practice session, works extremely hard and he’s making the most of his talent and ability.

“He’s one of the best players in the world and he’s been doing it consistently for the last seven or eight months.

“I don’t believe that you get into the top positions in the world without working extremely hard. You would hope every player would be like that and try to get the most out of themselves like Cam, but that isn’t the case.”

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Murray cited Emma Raducanu’s shock US Open success as evidence that the script is often torn up in tennis

“We’ve seen some stuff in tennis over the last few years that no one expected, like with Emma,” he said.

“It is an unbelievably difficult ask but the thing that you can guarantee with Cam is he will give himself the best opportunity to win because he will fight for every single point, he’s going to compete extremely hard and he doesn’t make it easy for anyone.”

Norrie will certainly have the crowd on his side, which at times in the past has flustered Djokovic, while the defending champion had to fight from two sets down to defeat Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals.

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“I know what to expect in terms of the crowd support,” said the Serbian. “For him, not much to lose. Every victory from now onwards is a big deal for him. I know that.

“But I practised (with him a) few times. I know his game well. He’s been around. Of course I will do my homework and get ready.”

Murray may believe in Norrie but David Goffin, who the British number one defeated in five sets in the quarter-finals, was rather less encouraging about his chances.

“If he’s playing the tennis of his life maybe, and Novak is not feeling well, we never know, but Novak is Novak,” said the Belgian. “He’s playing even better when the crowd is against him. Novak is just an alien, and to beat an alien, I don’t know how.”