Rafael Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon after conceding he could not be competitive.
Nadal gingerly took to the practice courts at the All England Club on Thursday as far from public view as possible.
Reports in Spain suggested he’d suffered a 7mm tear in his abdominal muscle during his gruelling five set quarter-final win over Taylor Fritz.
He seemed in so much pain during that match that his family were urging him to quit, something not in the nature of the 36-year-old 22-time Grand Slam winner.
Nadal’s withdrawal means Nick Kyrgios will now advance to his first-ever Grand Slam final on Sunday, where he’ll take on either defending champion Novak Djokovic or British hope Cameron Norrie.
“I need to respect myself, I don’t want to not be competitive enough to play at this level,” he said.
“I can’t win two matches in these circumstances. I can’t serve at the right speed, I can’t do the normal movement to serve.
“As everybody saw I’ve been suffering with a pain in my abdominal, I’ve got a tear in the muscle. It does not make sense to play.
“If I keep going the injury is going to get worse and worse. It’s very sad to have to say it.
“I can’t risk the match and then having two or three months away from competition. It’s my decision and I have to live with it. I’m very sad and it’s been very tough.
“I’ve been playing very well and at a high level, that makes me feel a bit worse. I thought I had a chance to win.”
Nadal believes his injury will take three to four weeks to heal, meaning he hopes to still take his place at the US Open at Flushing Meadows.
PHOTO CAPTION: Spain’s Rafael Nadal during practice at Wimbledon on Thursday (Reuters, via Beat Media Group subscription)