Rafael Nadal withdraws from Wimbledon with injury

Rafael Nadal
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Rafael Nadal withdrew from Wimbledon, citing an abdominal muscle tear, the night before his scheduled semifinal with Nick Kyrgios, sending Kyrgios into Sunday’s final.

Nadal, the record 22-time Grand Slam men’s singles champion, said Thursday night that he had abdominal “issues” for the last week. The pain accelerated in Wednesday’s five-set quarterfinal win over American Taylor Fritz.

Nadal, who expects to miss three or four weeks (but start hitting balls next week), withdrew because playing further could make the injury worse and because, in his current state, he did not think he could win two matches to claim a third Wimbledon title.

“I don’t want to go out there, not be competitive enough to play at the level I need to play to achieve my goal, and with big chance to make the things much worse,” the 36-year-old said.

On Wednesday, he took a medical timeout in the second set against Fritz and was clearly affected by the injury the rest of the match as shown in his serve speeds.

At one point during play, Nadal’s father was motioning from his player box for him to quit.

“A lot of moments I was thinking maybe I will not be able to finish the match,” Nadal said Wednesday. “I had these feelings [abdominal pain] for a couple of days. Without a doubt, today was the worst day. Have been an important increase of pain and limitation.”

WIMBLEDON DRAWS: Women | Men

After Wednesday’s match, Nadal said he would get medical tests on Thursday before determining whether he would play in Friday’s semifinals. On Thursday afternoon, he practiced on site.

Then on Thursday evening, a press conference was scheduled on a half-hour’s notice for 7:20 local time, leading to speculation that he was withdrawing.

It’s the third major injury for Nadal this year after a broken rib in March and, in the spring, a recurrence of chronic pain in his left foot that has troubled him for years. He won the French Open with no feeling in the foot after receiving two pain-killing injections before each of his seven matches in Paris.

After the French Open final on June 5, he had a radio frequency injection on a foot nerve in an attempt to alleviate the problem and prolong his career. It appeared to work as he returned to play at Wimbledon, seeking the third leg of the calendar Grand Slam, and said before the tournament that he felt no pain.

“I never thought about the calendar Slam,” Nadal said Thursday. “The fact that I was here shows how important is this tournament for me and how much I wanted to play here. I did all the things the best way possible to give myself a chance here.

“I am in the semifinals, so I’m playing very well the last couple of days. Especially yesterday, at the beginning of the match, playing at a very, very high level. Even that makes me feel little bit worse because I felt that playing at the level that I was playing, probably I will have a chance.”

Kyrgios, a 27-year-old Australian, was already into his first major semifinal. Now, he will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic or No. 9 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain in Sunday’s final.

Kyrgios, ranked 40th in the world, is the first unseeded men’s Grand Slam finalist since Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open and the first unseeded Wimbledon men’s finalist since Australian Mark Philippoussis in 2003.

Djokovic, who has 20 major titles, can break his tie with Roger Federer for second in men’s history and move within one of Nadal. Djokovic might be excluded from the next two majors — the U.S. Open and Australian Open — due to his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde
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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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