Jan 24, 2018
There was more heartbreak for Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open as the world No. 1 retired in his quarterfinal against Marin Cilic in the fifth set.
Nadal appeared on his way to the semifinals at Melbourne Park when he won a dramatic third-set tiebreak but once he became injured in the fourth set Tuesday, it was apparent his stay at the year’s first major would come to an end.
A limping Nadal called it quits early in the fifth set — his first grand slam retirement since the Australian Open in 2010 against Andy Murray — and Cilic triumphed 3-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 2-0 ret.
If there was some comfort for Nadal’s fans, his perennially troubled knees weren’t the issue. Instead, it looked like his right thigh was the problem.
The Spaniard, 31, has indeed endured tough times in Melbourne, despite edging great rival Roger Federer in a classic five-set final in 2009.
He injured his hamstring in the 2011 quarterfinals against David Ferrer, hurt his back in the warmup of the 2014 final against Stan Wawrinka and has now suffered the leg issue against Cilic.
Cilic next meets Kyle Edmund, who is admirably carrying the torch for Britain in the absence of the injured Murray as he upset last year’s semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4.
Edmund wasn’t alone in springing a surprise Tuesday, with the surging Elise Mertens becoming the latest unexpected women’s semifinalist in Melbourne when the Belgian crushed Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-0. The fourth seed said she was banged up, too, bothered by a hip injury.
Edmund, who moved to England from South Africa aged three and is now based in the Bahamas, is just the sixth British man to go this deep at a grand slam in the Open Era and the first other than Murray since Tim Henman at the 2004 US Open.
“I am loving it right now, just the way I’m playing,” Edmund told reporters. “I’m 23 years old, my first grand slam semifinal. First time I played on one of the biggest courts in the world, to beat a quality of player like Grigor. Of course, all these things I’m aware of.
“They’re great feelings. You don’t obviously play in the semifinals of a grand slam every day, or quarters like today.”
Henman usually doesn’t travel to grand slams nowadays as he prefers to be at home but he was in attendance at Rod Laver Arena to watch Edmund’s heroics.