He had considered retiring from his quarterfinal match against the Californian Taylor Fritz on Wednesday, and said his father and sister had gestured to him from the audience during the second set that he ought to stop. When he won that epic 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-4), it added to his legend that he has amassed over recent years: his capacity to play elite tennis through injury.
After that match, he said he would have tests on Thursday, and that he worried about being able to play against Kyrgios in the latter’s first Grand Slam semifinal, and that he saw little possibility in the way of treatment. He had left the court at one point Wednesday to receive anti-inflammatories and analgesics, he said. He still managed to elevate his form to where Fritz saw his mobility at pretty much its usual height — better than most any other player — and to where Fritz said, “I was absolutely ripping the ball in corners, and he was running and ripping them back for winners, so…”
Nadal won the French Open this year despite a foot injury that required considerable treatment and left him unconvinced at times that he might be able to finish the tournament.
A hint as to his thinking for such a situation might have turned up at the 2021 Australian Open, when he recollected an occasion from a long career that began in 2003.
“It depends on what kind of injury you have,” he said then. “You have something broken, I think you have a strain or your abdominal — for example, I did it in the past, and you do mistakes because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on when you are competing. For example, I remember in the US Open 2009 that I started the US Open with a strain, I think, here in the abdominal. I start with six millimeters or so of strain and I finished the tournament, I lost in the semifinals against (Juan Martin) del Potro and I finished the tournament with 26 millimeters. Of course it wasn’t a smart decision.”