Rafael Nadal refused to surrender to his injury and hung on to hold off American Taylor Fritz in five sets, reaching the men's singles semifinals at the Wimbledon Championships once again.
The 22-time major champion Nadal left the court for a medical timeout in the second set, after losing the opening set 3-6, and appeared to be struggling with an abdominal issue midway through the four-hour, 20-minute quarterfinal encounter on Wednesday. Yet the second seed showcased trademark resilience, raising his aggression to keep points short and producing a high-class deciding-set tie-break to seal a 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(4) victory.
"The body, in general, is fine but of course in the abdominal, something is not going well, to be honest," said Nadal after the match and admitted that for a lot of moments, he thought he would not be able to finish the match.
But the 36-year-old Spaniard didn't let the crowd down as he returned to the court and picked up his racket. Wild cheering accompanied him since then whenever he got a point.
Nadal broke in the 11th game to take the second set 7-5, but Fritz dominated the following set with huge serves and big forehands.
The 24-year-old American put himself ahead with another 6-3 win, but Nadal always with a never-say-die attitude, came back again by winning the fourth set 7-5.
In the deciding set, both broke once and tied until 6-6. Nadal sensationally started the tiebreak with a 5-0 lead before wrapping it up 10-4.
"I just wanted to give myself a chance. Not easy to leave the tournament. Not easy to leave Wimbledon, even if the pain was hard," said Nadal.
Nadal, who won the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June, is seeking to keep his bid for the 2022 Grand Slam alive at the grass-court major. His next opponent is Nick Kyrgios as the Australian beat Cristian Garin from Chile 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(5) to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time.
But the Spaniard said he could not guarantee that he would play the semifinals on Friday as he would go for some tests on Thursday.
"I hope to be ready to play," said Nadal on Wednesday. "Nick is a great player on all surfaces, but especially here on grass. He's having a great grass-court season and it's going to be a big challenge. I need to be at 100% to keep having chances and that's what I am going to try to do."
The win against Fritz improved Nadal's quarterfinal record at Wimbledon to 8-0. The two-time champion's ability to find big shots at big moments was key in what was otherwise an even battle at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. The American converted eight break point opportunities to Nadal's seven, while both players fired 56 winners in a high-quality display of all-court grass-court tennis, according to a report on the ATP Website.
Wednesday's victory was Nadal's fourth consecutive triumph in a five-set match. He also went the distance this year in wins against Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open, and Felix Auger-Aliassime at Roland Garros. The Spaniard's career record in five-setters now stands at 26-13.