Rafa Nadal injury latest: What we learned from private practice session after medical scan

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Rafael Nadal was difficult to find at the All England Club on Thursday, the day after he suffered a huge injury scare in his Wimbledon quarter-final and admitted he was close to retiring the match. The second seed was due to practise on one of the tournament’s smaller show courts before failing to turn up, and later took to one of the back courts at Aorangi Park to have a private session away from the eyes of the media and fans.

Nadal battled through an abdominal injury to defeat Taylor Fritz in five sets yesterday before admitting he didn’t know whether he’d recover in time to face Nick Kyrgios in Friday’s semi-final. He was then due to practise on Wimbledon’s Court 10 at 12.30pm on Thursday but failed to show up, with Marca reporting a scan showed Nadal he had a 7mm tear in the abdomen but would be playing tomorrow.

He then took to Court 10 at Aorangi Park around an hour after he was due to hit on one of the tournament courts, right in the back corner of the players’ practice area away from the vision of any fans and the media. Nadal’s surprise private session caused the bottom half of Aorangi Park to be effectively shut down following his impromptu arrival, with staff under strict orders to let no one downstairs to the area of his court unless they were a player or part of a player’s team.

But the Spaniard’s agent, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, informed reporters that Nadal and his team weren’t trying to hide anything and said they weren’t behind the shutdown of the lower level of Aorangi Park. Whether intentional or not, the 22-time Grand Slam champion also took the side of the court that couldn’t be seen from the balconies above, with only his hitting partner and coach Marc Lopez visible from afar.

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There were moments when Nadal could be seen, donning a neon yellow t-shirt and a white cap, as he approached the net to discuss things with Lopez and coach Francisco Roig. Most notably, the 36-year-old ended the session by practising serves – the shot that was most hindered by the abdominal injury during yesterday’s match, with Marca also reporting he had not hit any serves in practice this week.

But the Spaniard’s serves were nowhere near full power, and it remains to be seen whether it was a tactical choice to save himself for Friday’s semi-final or whether he is still unable to serve full pelt. Nadal also had his family in attendance, with his father, sister and wife sitting on the grass on the path leading to the court and watching on.


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He entered and left Court 10 at Aorangi Park through a back entrance that meant he didn’t have to walk past any fans or media, and was later seen near Gate 14 on the All England Club grounds, going inside to the players’ area without signing autographs for fans calling his name.

Nadal is still intending to play tomorrow, according to Marca, but the full extent of the impact of his injury in a real competitive match won’t be seen until he steps on Centre Court to take on first-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Nick Kyrgios.

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