Rafa Nadal showed why he is adored around the world by fighting through injury in a five-set thriller at Wimbledon, but the Spaniard has revealed his family begged him to retire sooner.
After suffering an abdominal injury in his Wimbledon quarter-final against American Taylor Fritz, Nadal used his trademark resilience to keep his dream of a calendar Grand Slam alive with a 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10-4) win.
The scenes in the second set, however, left the tennis world speechless.
As Fritz moved the 22-time Grand Slam champion around Centre Court, Nadal was rallying to stay in the match.
As he fought through the pain, the Spaniard drew on the energy of the viewer.
However, Nadal’s father and sister, who were in his player’s box with him, were not as animated as usual.
After returning to the court from a timeout, it appeared that Nadal’s father, Sebastian, was waving for his son to retire due to pain.
Fans also noticed that Nadal had stopped looking towards his player’s box for inspiration at one point.
Nadal won the second set and fought like a warrior until the final point, when he won the super tiebreak 10-4.
The Spaniard’s post-match celebrations were more reserved than usual, as Nadal advanced to face Nick Kyrgios.
However, Nadal revealed with surprise that his father and sister had advised him to retire.
“They told me I need to retire the match,” Nadal said to the media press conference.
“It was tough to retire in the middle of the match, not easy, even if I had that idea for such a long time,” Nadal said.
“It’s something I hate to do so I keep trying.”
Rafa Nadal admits injury concerns for Nick Kyrgios clash
After the match, Nadal made an unsettling admission: he wasn’t sure he’d be able to bounce back and face Australian Kyrgios in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
“I don’t know,” a battered and bruised Nadal said.
“Honestly, I can’t give you a clear answer because if tomorrow, another thing happens, I will be a liar.
“It’s the player’s decision, but at the same time, I need to know different opinions and need to check everything the proper way, no?
“Something more important than winning Wimbledon, that is health. Let’s see how this is going.”
To beat Kyrgios, Nadal will have to be at his best.
And the Spaniard, who is 1-1 against Kyrgios at Wimbledon, admitted the Australian would be a challenge.
“Nick is a great player, but especially here on grass – it’s going to be a big challenge. I’m going to have to be at 100 percent.”
Unfortunately, Fritz was devastated after the loss having come so close to his maiden Wimbledon semi-final.
“Honestly, it hurts probably worse than any loss I’ve ever had,” sighed Fritz.