Friday, August 19, 2022

Nadal overcomes injury to reach Wimbledon semis

Rafael Nadal fought through injury to come from behind to beat Taylor Fritz and reach the Wimbledon semi-finals.
The 22-time major champion, who had a medical timeout at the end of the second set and struggled with his movement for long spells, won 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 (10-4).
It keeps Nadal’s bid for a calendar Grand Slam on track and sets up a semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.
Nadal, who had strapping on his abdomen in his previous match, seemed to be bothered by the same issue again.
Early into the contest, Nadal was seen clutching his abdominal area, a trend that would persist. At times, he struggled to move at full speed, though did hold 3-1 and 3-0 leads in the first two sets before seeing them erased by the opposition.
At 4-3 in the second set, Nadal was visited by the trainer and left the court to receive treatment. It appeared his family did not want him to continue, but the two-time winner carried on, and eventually broke to level the contest.
Serving at 1-1, 30-40, Nadal double-faulted and bent over as he winced again. Fritz wrapped up the third set with a double break when Nadal yanked a crosscourt forehand wide.
Nadal twice saw break advantages erased by Fritz in the fourth set. He served to stay in it, 4-5, 0-15, then regained control to push the clash into a decider.
Both players held comfortably in the early goings. Then tension built.
At 2-3, Nadal stared down deuce. In the following game, Fritz saved two break points, the first with a backhand that kissed the net and trickled over, but Nadal seized a third with a forehand up the line-backhand drop shot winning combo.
Fritz didn’t go away. A nifty backhand half volley coupled with some mistakes from Nadal saw the American get back on serve. And from there, the two held to arrive at a decisive 10-point tiebreak.
Nadal bolted out to a 5-0 start, forcing the issue on Fritz’s backhand side. Three straight points from Fritz cut the gap briefly, but the No. 2 seed pulled away to shut the door.
Halep in last four
There has been no stopping Simona Halep at this year’s Wimbledon as the Romanian produced another eye-catching performance to surge into the semi-finals with a 6-2 6-4 win over American Amanda Anisimova on Wednesday.
The 2019 champion did not exactly give the fans who had forked out 175 pounds ($208) for a Centre Court ticket value for money as she toppled a shellshocked Anisimova in 63 minutes to reach her third semi-final at the All England Club.
After Halep had wrapped up the first set when Anisimova banged a service return long, the American was left rejecting one racket after another into her red bag as she was broken for the fourth time to trail 4-1 in the second set.
The 30-year-old Halep was broken while serving for the match at 5-1 and Anisimova had her 0-40 down when she tried again at 5-3.
But a few hard-hitting slaps to her thigh at 15-40 down got Halep’s legs moving again and the 16th seed secured victory when Anisimova swiped a backhand long.
She will next meet either Ajla Tomljanovic or Kazakh 17th seed Elena Rybakina.
Jabeur becomes first Arab woman to enter a Grand Slam singles semis
Tunisia’s world No.2 tennis player Ons Jabeur rallied from a set down to defeat Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 at Wimbledon to become the first Arab or North African woman to reach a Grand Slam singles semifinal.
A year after reaching the last-eight in a historic first for Arab women, Jabeur, the third seed at The Championships, went one step further in 2022, reaching the semifinals at a major for the first time and setting up a last-four clash against Tatjana Maria of Germany.
Across both men’s and women’s tennis, Arabs and North Africans were previously winless in major quarterfinals in the Open Era, including two losses by Jabeur herself; she lost to eventual champion Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open, and Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at Wimbledon 12 months ago.
Maria also came from a set down to beat fellow German Jule Niemeier in the other three-set quarterfinal. Maria and Jabeur will play for the first time in four years.
“I was hoping that I could get to this stage for a long time already. I struggled few times in the quarterfinal,” Jabeur was quoted as saying by
“I was talking a little bit to (Moroccan ATP former World No.22 and four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist) Hicham Arazi.
“He told me, ‘Arabs always lose in the quarterfinals and we are sick of it. Please break this.’ I was, like, ‘I’ll try, my friend,’ … We were just texting, and he was really happy. He was, like, ‘Thank you for finally making the semifinal. Now you can really go and get the title,’” added Jabeur.
Having lost her two previous Grand Slam quarterfinals in straight sets, Jabeur was slow initially against Bouzkova. She dropped her first set of the tournament in the face of an inspired Czech rival who was bidding to upset the third-seeded player.
“I think I played really good from beginning of the second set, especially having a early break kind of helps me gain me the confidence,” Jabeur, who completed the task in 1 hour, 47 minutes, said.
“I know it wasn’t easy playing Marie (Bouzkova). She gets all the balls and doesn’t make, to win a point, easy for me. I’m glad I stepped in with my game. I was more aggressive in the second set, and especially tactically I was playing some angles that she didn’t like much.”
Though Jabeur and her semifinal opponent Maria have played three previous times, all were a lifetime ago in the context of their current careers. Maria won their only tour-level meeting in Linz in 2017, with Jabeur earning wins in qualifying matches at the 2014 US Open and in Beijing in 2018.
“Obviously it’s tough to play her (Maria). It’s going to be a great match between us, a lot of respect, for sure,” added Jabeur.

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