ADVERTISEMENT

Nadal ignores body language at Wimbledon as Halep looks to semis

ADVERTISEMENT

Rafael Nadal has shrugged off new concerns about his fitness as he targets a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Spaniard played his round of 16 clash at the All England Club on Monday against Botic van de Zandschulp with an abdomen strap.

Just last month, he won a 14th French Open with his troublesome left foot numb before undergoing career-saving treatment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nadal refused to discuss whether or not his latest physical concern is a concern.

“I’m a bit tired of talking about my body, all the problems I have. I’d rather not talk about it now,” Nadal said.

All respect for the rest of the rivals. At the moment I am healthy enough to move forward and fight for the things I want.

Nadal is halfway through the first calendar Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver in 1969.

After needing four sets in each of the first two rounds to progress, Nadal has looked impressive ever since, beating Lorenzo Sonego and Van de Zandschulp to reach the quarter-finals for the eighth time.

On Wednesday he will look to reach the semi-finals, also for the eighth time, when he takes on the in-form Taylor Fritz.

The American is in the last eight of a Slam for the first time and has yet to drop a set.

The 24-year-old defeated Nadal in the Indian Wells Masters final earlier this year when the Spaniard was suffering from a broken rib.

– ‘Play more freely’ –

That loss ended his 20-match winning streak and forced him to rest six weeks before the clay-court season.

Fritz, whose mother played Wimbledon in 1977, said facing Nadal meant an all-out attack.

“I don’t really guess shots like I would if I’m playing someone I’m supposed to beat,” he said.

“I might think, should I go for this, should I play it safe? Against someone like Rafa, it’s easy to always take the aggressive decision and play more freely.”

Waiting in the semifinal will be the controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios or the Chilean Cristian Garín.

Despite the presence of Nadal and six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the draw, Kyrgios has arguably been the headlining act.

He returned to the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, when he mocked his 144th place in the world rankings to stun Nadal.

The 27-year-old reached the quarter-finals having played two five-set matches, thrilling and confusing onlookers as he collected $14,000 in fines.

He has also shown some impressive shots, surpassing the 100 mark and hitting a total of 257 winners in four rounds.

– ‘Annoying people’ –

“I sit here now at the Wimbledon quarterfinals again, and I know there are a lot of people who are very upset,” Kyrgios said.

Garin, in 43rd place, saved two match points to beat Australian Alex de Minaur in a grueling Round of 16 tie that lasted four hours and 34 minutes.

In the women’s quarterfinals, 2019 champion Simona Halep takes on Amanda Anisimova of the United States.

Halep, working with Serena Williams’ former coach Patrick Mouratoglou, dropped just three games to upset fourth-seeded Paula Badosa in the last round.

The Romanian missed the 2021 championships due to injury but looks in ominous form at the All England Club, reaching the quarter-finals for the fifth time.

Anisimova is back in a Slam quarterfinal for the first time since reaching the French Open semifinals in 2019 after beating Halep in the quarterfinals.

Halep defeated the American on grass in Bad Homburg last month.

In the day’s other quarterfinals, Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic takes on heavy-duty scavenger Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.

Tomljanovic also reached the quarterfinals in 2021, where she was defeated by eventual champion Ashleigh Barty.

Russian-born Rybakina has not dropped a set and achieved a second Slam quarterfinal after reaching the quarterfinals at the 2021 French Open.

– ‘It’s a gift’ –

Standing at an impressive six feet (1.84 meters), Rybakina, who still lives in Moscow, has hit 29 aces in the tournament so far.

In Monday’s win over Petra Martic, she unleashed the tournament’s second-fastest serve: 122 miles (196 kilometers) per hour.

“I never compared myself to anyone. I just know that I have this gift. I’m tall and I play very fast,” Rybakina said.

DJ

sniloans