Nadal Grand Slam Run is over.

Nadal Grand Slam Run is over.

TENNIS

I stated on Thursday morning that “if Rafael Nadal’s first half of the season was any indicator, he will be on Centre Court for his semifinal on Friday and ready to play well”

Nadal’s most recent ailment, an abdominal strain, proved to be insurmountable in 2022. On Thursday afternoon, he withdrew from his match against Nick Kyrgios because he did not believe he would be able to comfortably play and win a semifinal and a final in the next three days.

Nadal stated, “I took my decision because I believe I cannot win two matches under these conditions.” “I am unable to serve. Not only am I unable to serve at the proper speed, but I also cannot perform the regular movement required to serve.”

“I don’t want to go out there, not be competitive enough to play at the level I need to play in order to reach my objective, and with a significant chance of making things much worse, do I?”

A genuine quest for the first men’s Grand Slam in half a century has failed for the second consecutive year. Novak Djokovic went much further in 2021, winning Wimbledon and advancing to the US Open final. Nevertheless, Nadal’s first half of 2022 has been one of the most remarkable stretches of tennis ever, especially given he did it while turning 36.

When Nadal arrived in Australia in January, he hadn’t played in six months, and, after 12 years of maddening close calls and near misses Down Under, he pondered whether this might be his final visit. Instead, he exorcised his worst demons—the two finals in Melbourne he lost after being up a break in the fifth set, to Novak Djokovic in 2012 and Roger Federer in 2017—by winning the tournament. This time, against Daniil Medvedev, he lost a break in the fifth set for the third time, but still managed to win. In 2009, Nadal won the tournament; thirteen years later, his perseverance was rewarded with a second victory.

Then, Nadal won the title in Acapulco and had a death-defying run to the Indian Wells final, defeating Sebastian Korda, Reilly Opelka, Nick Kyrgios, and Carlos Alcaraz before losing to Taylor Fritz in the final with a damaged rib.

When Nadal arrived at Roland Garros two months later, he was once again pondering the end of his career. In Rome, he felt the pain in his foot resurface after having recently recovered from a rib ailment. He stated that he was tired of fighting it, but he got numbing injections before each match and made another high-wire victory run, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 in the fifth set and Djokovic in four sets.

It turned out that Wimbledon was an injury too far. However, his victory over Fritz in the quarterfinals marked a fitting finale to his Slam quest. He avenged the lone important loss of his season thus far by overcoming the pain he was experiencing and providing yet another Slam audience a five-set rollercoaster ride. Again, Nadal came up with an answer; what he lacked on his serve, he made up for with his forehand. Again, he was practically flawless in the most crucial moment of the match, the tiebreaker of the final set.

“I didn’t want to leave the court in the midst of a quarterfinal match,” Nadal explained. “Even if, as I stated yesterday, the possibility of retirement lingers in my thoughts after the first five or six games, I find a way to complete the match. Something of which I am proud.”

Nadal stated that he expects to “create the schedule that I want to do” and play throughout the remainder of the summer, which will likely include Canada, the US Open, and the Laver Cup.

He will not win the Grand Slam, although he insists he never considered it.

He says, “I considered my daily happiness and my daily work.”

As usual, it was a delight to see him go about his work.