Injured Rafael Nadal retired before the fifth set against Marin Cilic in the Australian Open quarterfinal, Tuesday night.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2018
The crowd at the Rod Laver Arena was electrified because of the enthralling play between world no.1 Rafael Nadal and world no.6 Marin Cilic but no one was expecting what happened after the fourth set.
Right after, Cilic broke Nadal to give him a 2-0 lead in the deciding set, the 31 year old Spaniard walked to the chair umpire and signaled an unexpected retirement. Rafa, then shook hands with the umpire and his opponent before angrily slamming his wristband on the ground.
Nadal said that he felt muscle pain in his upper right leg in the third set but he continued playing. In the fourth set, the injury became apparent and despite of long delays for treatment, he couldn’t continue playing and therefore retired while trailing in the fifth set.
The top seed was visibly in pain as he walked to the table where he was interviewed and winced as he lowered his body to get himself seated.
“Tough moments — not [for] the first time here,” he said. “I’m a positive person, but today is an opportunity lost to be in a semifinal for a Grand Slam and fight for an important title for me.
“It’s really tough to accept.”
Rafa said that he would provide an update on his injury after having MRI scans on Wednesday.
“I can’t tell you exactly the muscle. It’s here high,” he said. “High on the leg. But I don’t want to lie. Tomorrow we’re going to communicate what’s going on after the MRI. You know, is not the moment to say what’s going on or what not going on because we really don’t know and the doctor really don’t know yet. Is better to wait just a few hours. Give me that time, and tomorrow afternoon we’ll let you know.”
Nadal complained that the managing authorities should pay attention on the surfaces that are the main reason behind injuries suffered by numerous players.
“Somebody who is running the tour should think a little bit about what’s going on,” Nadal said. “Too many people are getting injured. If we keep playing on this very, very hard surfaces what’s going to happen in the future with our lives.”
This is not the first time that Nadal had retired during a Grand Slam match. The first time he retired was in 2010 in an Australian Open quarterfinal against Andy Murray.
Nadal last won the Australian Open in 2009 and was primed to win the title again this time.
Nadal and Cilic have been head to head for six times in the past, out of which Cilic had managed to win only once.
Following his 3-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 2-0 victory, Cilic is advanced to the semifinal where he will play against British Kyle Edmund.
“Unbelievable performance from both of us and really unfortunate for Rafa,” the Croatian said. “He’s such an unbelievable competitor. He always gives his best … it’s very unfortunate for him to finish this way.”