Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has pulled out of Wimbledon with an abdominal injury, handing Nick Kyrgios his debut spot in a singles grand slam final.
The 22-time grand slam winner, who was visibly in pain as he defeated American young gun Taylor Fritz in straight sets in the quarter-final, announced the heartbreaking decision to pull out on Thursday evening (Friday morning AEST).
Kyrgios, who powered past Chile’s Cristian Garin in straight sets to set up what had been a much-anticipated semi-final showdown with Nadal, will now play the winner of Novak Djokovic and Cameron Norrie in the final on Sunday.
The BBC reported that Kyrgios would become the first player to ever receive a walkover entry into the Wimbledon final.
Meanwhile, Nadal had been chasing a calendar slam and was one tournament win away from matching Serena Williams’ record of 23 majors in the Open era. He was looking to pull further ahead of rivals Djokovic and Roger Federer for the men’s record.
“I am very sad. It has been a very tough one,” Nadal said.
Nadal said the abdominal tear was too severe for him to compete at the top level and that he would have risked further injury by playing.
“I made my decision because I don’t believe that I can win two matches,” Nadal said.
“… It’s not only that I can’t serve at the right speed, it’s that I can’t do the normal movement to serve.”
Nadal battled a severe foot injury throughout Roland-Garos in Paris earlier this year, receiving injections to numb the limb just to get through.