Rafael Nadal withdrew from Wimbledon because of a torn abdominal muscle on Thursday, a day before he was supposed to play Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals.
It is the first time since 1931 that a man pulled out of the oldest Grand Slam tournament before a semifinal or final.
“I made my decision because I believe that I can’t win two matches under these circumstances,” Nadal said at a news conference at the All England Club. “I can’t serve. 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.”
The 22-time major champion sighed occasionally while answering questions in English, then Spanish, for more than 20 minutes total. He twice described himself as “very sad.”
Nadal said trying to continue to compete could make the injury worse.
The only other time in his career that Nadal gave a walkover to an opponent by pulling out of a Grand Slam tournament prior to a match came at the 2016 French Open, when he withdrew before the third round because of an injured left wrist.
The 40th-ranked Kyrgios, a 27-year-old from Australia, advanced to his first title match at a major tournament and becomes the first unseeded men’s finalist at Wimbledon since Mark Philippoussis, who lost to Roger Federer in 2003.
The second-seeded Nadal, a 36-year-old from Spain, is 19-0 in Grand Slam action in 2022, including trophies at the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June. That put him halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam for the first time in his career.
Nadal has been bothered by a stomach muscle for about a week, and the pain became nearly unbearable in the first set of his 4-hour, 21-minute victory via fifth-set tiebreaker against Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
After that match, Nadal said he had considered stopping before it was over — and could not be certain whether he would feel well enough to play again Friday.
He wore two strips of athletic tape on his lower stomach and took a medical timeout to take painkilling pills; his father and sister motioned from the stands for him to quit.
On Thursday’s off day, Nadal went to the All England Club for a light practice session. He was signed up on the official schedule to train on one of the competition courts but did not show up there, instead opting for practice courts to which fans don’t have access.
Mostly content to hit forehands and backhands, Nadal did attempt a few serves — the part of his game that revealed the most obvious inability to play with full force and, he said, caused the most discomfort against Fritz. Those practice serves Thursday were generally tapped in, by Nadal’s standards, not with any of the body-torqueing effort he usually uses.
“I was thinking during the whole day about the decision to make,” Nadal said.
He tried a new treatment after leaving Paris, and that worked well enough, Nadal said, to allow him to walk without limping.
His level of play through five matches on Wimbledon’s grass was such that he thought he had a chance to win a third title at the tournament, after those in 2008 and 2010.
The injury changed things, of course.
“I don’t want to go out there, not be competitive enough to play at the level that I need to play to achieve my goal,” he said.
Nadal said he thought he might be sidelined for about a month or so. The year’s last Grand Slam tournament, the U.S. Open, starts Aug. 29.
Jabeur makes history
Ons Jabeur’s steady progress from year to year — up the tennis rankings, through the draws of various tournaments and, now, at Wimbledon — has carried her to a Grand Slam singles final, the first African or Arab woman to make it that far in the professional era.
The No. 3-seeded Jabeur, a 27-year-old from Tunisia, got past her good friend Tatjana Maria 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in an up-and-down semifinal at a sun-splashed Centre Court on Thursday.
On Saturday, Jabeur will face another player making her major final debut, No. 17 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, for the championship. Rybakina overwhelmed 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep of Romania 6-3, 6-3 in the second semifinal.
After a surprising first-round loss at the French Open in May, Jabeur is on quite a run right now: She has won 11 consecutive matches, all on grass courts, and 22 of her past 24. Since pro players were first admitted to major tennis tournaments in 1968, never had an African or Arab woman been to a final.
WATCH l Jabeur advances to Wimbledon final:
“I’m a proud Tunisian woman standing here today. I know in Tunisia, they’re going crazy right now. I just try to inspire, really, as much as I can,” she said. “I want to see more and more — not just Tunisian — Arab, African players on tour. I just love the game and I want to share this experience with them.”
‘It’s a dream coming true’
Jabeur has been rising in the tennis world in recent seasons. In 2020, at the Australian Open, she became the first Arab woman to reach the quarter-finals at a major. Last year produced all sorts of milestones: first Arab player to break into the top 10 of the men’s or women’s rankings, first Arab to win a WTA title and a quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon.
Now she’s done that two steps better.
“I really don’t know what to say. It’s a dream coming true from years and years of work and sacrifice. I’m really happy it’s paying off,” Jabeur said through a wide smile. “One more match now.”
“I am a proud Tunisian woman standing here right now”<a href=”https://twitter.com/Ons_Jabeur?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Ons_Jabeur</a> is an inspiration 🤩<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Wimbledon?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Wimbledon</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CentreCourt100?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CentreCourt100</a> <a href=”https://t.co/GGo4K5dKgM”>pic.twitter.com/GGo4K5dKgM</a>
When she closed out the biggest victory of her career, she and Maria — a 34-year-old mother of two from Germany who is ranked 103th — met at the net for an extended hug. Jabeur whispered something in her pal’s ear. Then, after depositing her racket on the sideline, Jabeur returned to the middle of the court for the usual victor’s wave to the crowd — except, instead of going alone, she playfully tugged Maria along with her, an uncommon gesture.
“I definitely wanted to share the moment with her at the end, because she’s such an inspiration for so many players, including me,” Jabeur said. “Coming back after having two babies — I still can’t believe how she did it.”
Rybakina, never beyond a major quarter-final until now, leads the tour in aces this year and added five to her total Thursday.
More surprising was the way Halep never got going, especially on her serve, double-faulting nine times.
WATCH l Rybakina punches ticket to Wimbledon final:
Halep had won her past 12 matches at the All England Club, a streak that began with her title run three years ago. Wimbledon was cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Halep was unable to compete a year ago because she tore her left calf muscle.
Before their semifinal, Jabeur and Maria stood beside each other, waiting to take the walk through the halls of the stadium that lead to the court. Close as they are, the pair avoided exchanged any glances or chatter.
Close friends, yes. On this day, opponents, too, with quite the setting, stage and stakes.
After such a strong first set, Jabeur was far less effective in the second. Perhaps it hit her just how close she was to getting to the final.
Suddenly, mistakes began accruing rapidly. Her serving was less self-assured. Maria took full advantage. And then, just as suddenly, Jabeur switched back to her best self, pulling out to a 5-0 edge in the third in 20 minutes.
After 17 unforced errors in the second set, Jabeur made a remarkably low total of three the rest of the way. Maria simply could not keep up.
Hockey Canada's strategy of deflecting serves no one but its disgraced leadership – The Globe and Mail
A while back, I had a job in a movie theatre. The theatre at the foot of an atrium in an open-plan tower. We plebs could look up at the offices and hallways above, where the corporation’s big wigs worked.
The biggest wig in our world would often lean over a balcony and stare down at us, like a gargoyle in pinstripes. If you were caught loafing, a call would be made and you’d hear about it.
One day, there was a commotion from several floors above – a lot of screaming and banging. The biggest wig had been fired. His reaction was to go back to his office and barricade himself inside it.
The banging was security kicking in the door. The screaming was him being dragged to the elevators. It was a different time.
But the lesson therein is timeless. Nobody likes being canned. But people in charge take it particularly hard.
Right now, 2½ months into Hockey Canada’s sex-abuse scandal, we’re at the barricade stage.
In any other country, this would be over now. Through a combination of popular outrage and political panic, the Hockey Canada edifice would have been burned to the ground.
But in this country we continue to believe shame will do the job for us. That the people in charge of this world-class gong show will get the message and slink off home.
But Hockey Canada’s leadership is not operating on Canadian rules. They’re pulling from the American handbook on how to survive a scandal. Shamelessness is a prerequisite.
Their first job was deflecting.
In terms of an absolute defence, the deflecting’s gone about as well as a guy trying to push off bullets by waving his hands around. But it bought time. The men in charge knew they could count on Ottawa to a) quickly promise to take decisive action and b) take absolutely forever to decide what that decisive action looks like.
Deflecting has another virtue – it dilutes outrage. No matter how awful, people can only read about a story for so long without becoming bored. And there’s always a fresh outrage to divert us.
This week, Hockey Canada hired someone to head an investigation into the workings of Hockey Canada. You could’ve written out this person’s CV long before the name was made public – retired judge, history of public service, member of the new Family Compact, etc.
Finding people is not hard. There are a whole bunch of them out there twiddling their thumbs, itching for someone to stick a microphone in front of them.
But after two months of withering pressure, Hockey Canada is just now figuring out who will set up the Slack group to discuss how to begin discussing their problems. Let me guess that if they’d been bleeding cash instead, organizing some sort of working committee would have taken two hours.
But this is how you do it, American-style. Pretend it’s a live broadcast with screen time to fill before commercials – stretch. Continue talking about nothing. Don’t stop speaking. It’s the silence that kills.
While you’re stretching, keep your eye on the horizon. That’s where the sports are. If you can make it to sports, you might be okay. The same people who wanted your head paraded in the town square yesterday might be distracted by a waving flag.
On Tuesday, the world junior hockey championship begins in Edmonton. Over the weekend, there will be a barrage of publicity about the tournament that launched a thousand official denials. We’ll rehash the particulars of this ugly affair and assess where we’re at. This column is part of that.
By Tuesday, the usual outlets will be talking about hockey. How’s Canada’s top line measuring up? Where’s the United States at? Whither the Olympic team?
This is how you erect a modern, media barricade.
Having seen a million of these things go down in recent years, you know you’re not going to talk your way out of your problem.
Bottom-line: You were in positions of authority at a public institution when something abhorrent happened. The integrity of that institution cannot be maintained if you continue to lead it.
This is obvious. But in our rush to definitively nail someone, anyone, we have skidded past the obvious. Now we’re all deep in the weeds, hacking away.
Uncovering the minutiae about who said what to whom at what board meeting may absorb reporters and politicians, but it only serves Hockey Canada’s current leadership.
While we’re Inspector Clouseau-ing this thing, we’re also avoiding the clear end point. The longer we spend doing that, the more likely it is that these fish all get off the hook.
This was the goal all along. Deflect, get to the world juniors, hope that Team Canada wins and that everyone is too exhausted by the end of it to keep taking pops at you. By the time your judge wraps up his report – let me guess ‘Mistakes were made but there is a clear plan forward’ – maybe you’ll have successfully run your gauntlet.
It’s not a plan, as such. As with Hockey Canada’s in-camera board meetings, nobody’s written it down. It’s instinctive process based on observation. In scandals as in sports, the mission is getting through today.
It’s not going to work. That’s also obvious. No matter what the eventual report says, it will reignite outrage.
The names of the players involved in the two alleged assaults will come out, probably during the NHL season. That will reignite outrage.
At any moment, the alleged victims could make fulsome public declarations. That will reignite outrage.
Any way you go, the outrage is going to leak out again. The only way to contain it is to blow this down to the foundations. Eventually, everyone’s going to realize that.
Really, all that’s being decided now is how you want to get to the elevators – walking under your own power, or being dragged there screaming by the rest of Canada.
Rafael Nadal announces he will not be playing at the Canadian Open
Nadal cited that the reason to abandon the Canadian Open was a result of an abundance of caution regarding injury concerns.
“From the vacation days and my subsequent return to training, everything has gone well these weeks. Four days ago, I also started training my serve and yesterday, after training, I had a little discomfort that was still there today.
We have decided not to travel to Montreal and continue with the training sessions without forcing ourselves. I sincerely thank the tournament director, Eugene, and his entire team for the understanding and support they have always shown me, and today was no exception.
I hope to play again in Montreal, a tournament that I love and that I have won five times in front of an audience that has always welcomed me with great affection. I have no choice but to be prudent at this point and think about health,” said the Spaniard.
Last month, Nadal was forced to withdraw from his Wimbledon semifinal against Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal injury.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has also withdrawn from the Canadian Open as his status as unvaccinated against COVID-19 means he cannot enter the country.
Djokovic is also unlikely to play at the US Open after organizers said they would respect the American government rules over travel for unvaccinated players as the United States (US) requires non-citizens to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter.
“Per the Grand Slam Rule Book, all eligible players are automatically entered into the men’s and women’s singles main draw fields based on ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event.
The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens,” read a statement from the US Open which is set to take place in New York from the 29th of August to the 11th of September, 2022.
Nevertheless, Novak Djokovic will be joining Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to play for Team Europe in the Laver Cup.
The event, which pits six European players against six from Team World over three days, will take place in London between 23 and 25 September 2022.
“It’s the only (event) where you play in a team with guys you are normally competing against. To be joining Rafa, Roger and Andy, three of my biggest all-time rivals, it’s going to be a truly unique moment in the history of our sport,” said Djokovic.
Canada beats Sweden to claim gold in Hlinka Gretzky Cup – Sportsnet.ca
RED DEER, Alta. — Canada scored early and often and also stayed out of the penalty box en route to a 4-1 victory over Sweden in the gold-medal final of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Tanner Howe, Ethan Gauthier, Calum Ritchie and Brayden Yager scored for the Canadians, who held period leads of 2-1 and 3-1 at the Peavey Mart Centrium on Saturday. Riley Heidt also chipped in with two assists for the champions.
Hugo Pettersson scored for Sweden, who were outshot 36-26. Each team received eight minutes in penalties.
Canada had beaten Sweden 3-0 on Aug. 3.
“Three weeks ago, we put this roster together and I felt right away this was a tight group,” said head coach Stephane Julien. “It’s not easy when you have this much talent, but everyone accepted their role and I’m so happy for them.”
The win is Canada’s first gold medal since 2018, the last time this tournament was held in Canada.
“I’m so happy for this group,” added Julien. “They haven’t had it easy in their careers the last two years with the pandemic, but now they have this, a gold medal and something they are going to remember for the rest of their career.”
Canada advanced to the final with a 4-1 win over Finland, while Sweden defeated Czechia 6-2. Finland beat Czechia 3-1 in Saturday’s bronze-medal final.
The Hlinka Gretzky Cup will shift to Europe in 2023, returning to Breclav and Piestany, Czechia for the first time since 2021.
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