RAFAEL NADAL admitted he might not play his blockbuster Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.
And that would see the Australian given a walkover into Sunday’s final.
The Spaniard blatantly ignored pleas from his family to QUIT this four-hour 21-minute epic with American Taylor Fritz as he battled courageously through the pain barrier.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion may have won 3-6 7-5 3-6 7-5 7-6 on Centre Court but he refused to retire despite a troublesome abdominal injury.
However, the Australian and French Open champ accepts he faces a race against time to be fit to play foe Kyrgios as he chases the first Calendar Slam in men’s tennis for 53 years.
Asked if it was possible to recover in time for Friday’s semis, Nadal replied: “I don’t know. I’m going to have some more tests.
“It is difficult to know. I am used to have things and I am used to having pain and playing with problems.
“Let’s see. It’s obvious that this is nothing new. I had these feelings for a couple of days.
“Without a doubt, this was the worst day. There has been an important increase of pain and limitation.
“I can’t give you a clear answer because if I gave you a clear answer and then another thing happens, I will be a liar.”
Nadal, who had a brown bandage on the right side of his belly, saw the calls and arm-waving from his concerned father Sebastian and anxious sister Maria Isabel midway through the second set.
But while the thought of exiting did enter his mind, the 36-year-old warrior said that he was never going to lay down his racket like that.
Nadal said: “They told me I needed to retire from the match.
“It was tough to retire in the middle of the match. Not easy even if I had that idea for such a long time.
“But in the other hand, I did it a couple of times in my tennis career. It is something that I hate to do it. So I just keep trying, and that’s it.
“I wanted to finish. And that’s what I did. I’m proud about the fighting spirit and the way that I managed to be competitive under the conditions.”
BETTING SPECIAL – LATEST OFFERS AND FREE BETS FOR WIMBLEDON
Today was the 14th anniversary of that memorable 2008 final with old foe Roger Federer when Nadal raged against the dying light to win his first of two Wimbledon crowns.
That immortal match had it all but this one was not far off it in terms of drama, excitement and edge-of-the-seat cliff-hangers.
There were one 25-shot rally, 26 aces, 112 winners in total, 15 breaks of serve – a record eight at SW19 on the Nadal serve – and numerous heart-in-the-mouth moments.
To everyone watching, it was clear Nadal was not moving anywhere near how he did in the previous four matches and as a result, the 24-year-old Californian clinched the first set in just 37 minutes.
At 4-3 up in the second set, a grimacing and wincing Nadal halted the contest and went backstage with the trainer where it is believed he popped some anti-inflammatories.
A double fault from Nadal gifted Fritz a key break of serve in the third set but then it was the turn of Fritz to call for the physio to request extra strapping for his left thigh.
Fritz had beaten an injured Nadal in the Indian Wells final in March but there was not to be a repeat here as Nadal claimed the fourth set and then incredibly took the fifth in a ten-point tie-break.