By Homero De la Fuente, CNN
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 on Centre Court at Wimbledon on Wednesday.
The match started well for the Spaniard as he broke the serve of his American opponent early in the first set. However, Fritz responded and reeled off five successive games to take the first set 6-3.
With Fritz up 4-3 in the second set, a trainer was called onto the court to evaluate the two-time Wimbledon champ. He eventually used a medical timeout and left the court for treatment. Despite those difficulties, Nadal roared back to win the second as he broke in the final game to win 7-5, tying the affair at one set each.
After comfortably taking the third set 6-3, Fritz was on the brink of victory by taking a 5-4 lead in the fourth set, with Nadal serving to extend the match.
Nadal did just that, winning the next three games to force a decisive fifth set.
In the fifth, both players found themselves tied 4-4 before the 24-year-old Fritz again found his way to a 5-4 lead, and Nadal served to extend the match. As he famously has done time and time again, the Spaniard grinded out another game to draw level at 5-5 each and eventually forced a tiebreak for the match.
From there, Nadal cruised past Fritz, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before going on to win the tiebreak 10-4.
“The body in general fine, of course in the abdominal something is not going well … I had to find a way to serve a little bit different. For a lot of moments, I was thinking maybe I will not be able to finish the match but, the court the energy (is) something else, so yeah,” Nadal said in the on-court interview.
With the victory, Nadal improves to 8-0 in quarterfinal matches at Wimbledon and becomes the third man in the Open Era to reach the Wimbledon singles semifinals aged 36 or older.
Nadal was forced to withdraw from 2021 Wimbledon due to fatigue, and is bidding for a record-extending 23rd men’s singles grand slam title and third at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
In the other men’s quarterfinal match on Wednesday, Australian Nick Kyrgios defeated Chile’s Cristian Garin in straight sets, 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-5) to reach a semifinal 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 semifinal in 17 years.
“I just thought I’d never be at a semifinal of a grand slam. Honestly, I thought my ship had sailed. Obviously, I didn’t go about things great earlier in my career and may have wasted that little window but you know, (I’m) just really proud of the way that I’ve just come back out here and with my team just to be able to put on a performance,” said Kyrgios after the match.
Nadal will play in the semifinal against Kyrgios on Centre Court on Friday.
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