Rafa Nadal has stunned the tennis world after withdrawing from his Wimbledon semi-final to send Aussie Nick Kyrgios straight into the final.
Nadal produced one of his all-time great escapes in the quarter-final, pushing through his abdominal injury to defeat Taylor Fritz 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-4) in a four hour and 20 minute epic.
The Spaniard was in clear discomfort and it prompted Nadal's father and sister - supporting him in his player's box - to call for him to retire.
However, Nadal battled on and admitted after the match he didn't know if he would be at 100 per cent to face the in-form Kyrgios.
And in a devastating decision, Nadal held a Wimbledon press conference to announce he had to withdraw from his semi-final clash after sustaining a tear in his abdomen.
“As you can imagine, I am here because I have to pull out from the tournament," Nadal said in a press conference he hastily called.
"As everybody saw yesterday, I have been suffering with pain in my abdomen.
"It wasn’t okay then, and now it’s confirmed. I have a tear in the abdominal muscle. The communication is too late. I was thinking the whole day about the decision to make, but I think it doesn’t make sense [to continue]. Very tough circumstances; it’s obvious that if I keep going, the injury will worsen.
"I’m very sad to say that."
Nadal admitted he didn't feel like he had a chance against Kyrgios if he were to play.
“I made my decision because I believe that I cannot win two matches under these circumstances," Nadal added.
"I can’t serve at the right speed; I can’t do normal movements. I can’t imagine myself winning two matches like this, and for respect for myself in a way, I don’t want to go out there and not be competitive enough to play at the level I need to play at to achieve my goal.
"There would have been a big chance of making things worse, and to be honest, a couple of weeks ago, I was in a difficult place with my foot injury, and now things are better in that case.
"For me, the most important thing is happiness; more than any title, even if everybody knows how much effort I put in to be here. I can’t risk that match and stay two, three months out of competition because that would be a tough thing for me.”
Nick Kyrgios advances to Wimbledon Final
Nadal's withdrawal leaves Kyrgios just one win away from capturing an elusive first grand slam title in what will be the 27-year-old's maiden major final.
Tennis's most exciting and unfulfilled talent will face either three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic or British ninth seed Cameron Norrie in Sunday's title match.
They clash on Friday in what would have been the curtain-raiser for the Kyrgios-Nadal match that the Australian had predicted would be the "most watched match ever".
Kyrgios was full of energy after his win in the quarter-final and claimed he felt like he was in the best form of his career.
"Honestly, at the start of the year, I didn't even know if I wanted to really play like a proper schedule at all. I don't really play a proper schedule now," he added.
"I obviously had thoughts the last year, year and a half, whether I wanted to play anymore. Lost the love, lost the fire, lost the spark.
"Then some things just changed in my life. I don't know. I kind of just rediscovered that I've got a lot of people that want me to play, that I play for.
"I've got a lot left in the tank. I feel like I'm probably playing some of my best tennis, mentally feeling great.
"It's been a long road. I think it was a seven, eight-year gap to make a quarter-final here from my first one. It's been a heck of a ride."
Mark Philippoussis was the last Australian to make the men's Wimbledon final, losing to Roger Federer in 2003 in what was the Swiss maestro's first of 20 grand slam successes.
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