Nadal ignores body language at Wimbledon as Halep watches semi-final

Rafael Nadal has shaken off his newfound worries about his fitness as he aims for a place in the Wimbledon semi-final on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Spaniard played his last-16 clash in the All England Club on Monday against Botic van de Zandschulp with bands across his stomach.

Last month, he won another 14th French Open with his troublesome left foot numb before undergoing career-saving treatment.

Nadal declined to discuss whether his latest physical concern is a concern.

“I’m a bit tired of talking about my body, all the problems I have. I’d rather not talk about that now,” Nadal said.

“All due respect to the rest of the opponents. For now I’m healthy enough to keep going and fight for the things I want.”

Nadal is halfway through the first Grand Slam calendar since Rod Laver in 1969.

After taking four sets in each of the opening two rounds to advance, Nadal has looked impressive ever since, past Lorenzo Sonego and Van de Zandschulp to reach the quarter-finals for the eighth time.

On Wednesday he will try to reach the semi-finals, also for the eighth time, when he takes on Taylor Fritz in form.

The American is in the last eight of a Slam for the first time and has yet to drop a set.

The 24-year-old defeated Nadal in the Indian Wells Masters final earlier this year when the Spaniard suffered a broken rib.

– ‘Play more freely’ –

That defeat ended his 20-game winning streak and forced him to take six weeks off before the clay-court season.

Fritz, whose mother played Wimbledon in 1977, said a confrontation with Nadal meant a total attack.

“I don’t really doubt shots like I would if I’m playing against someone I’m supposed to beat,” he said.

“I might think: should I go for this, should I play it safe? Against someone like Rafa, it’s easy to always make the aggressive decision and play more freely.”

Waiting in the semi-finals will be either controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios or Chilean Cristian Garin.

Despite the presence of Nadal and six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the draw, Kyrgios was arguably the headliner.

He is back in the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time since 2014, when he made fun of his 144th world ranking to stun Nadal.

The 27-year-old has made it to the quarterfinals after playing two five-set, excited and confused spectators and receiving $14,000 in fines.

He also showed some breathtaking shots, taking his number of aces past 100 and hitting a total of 257 winners over four rounds.

– ‘Upset people’ –

“I’m back in the Wimbledon quarter-finals now and I just know there are so many people out there who are so upset,” Kyrgios said.

Garin, in 43rd place, saved two match points to beat Australian Alex de Minaur in a grueling last-16 draw that lasted four hours and 34 minutes.

In the quarter-finals of the women, 2019 champion Simona Halep will face Amanda Anisimova from the United States.

Halep, who teamed up with former Serena Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou, lost just three games to defeat fourth-seeded Paula Badosa in the final round.

The Romanian missed the 2021 championships through injury, but she is looking at the All England Club in ominous form and making it to the quarter-finals for the fifth time.

Anisimova is back in the last eight of a Slam for the first time since reaching the semi-finals of the French Open in 2019 after beating Halep in the quarter-finals.

Halep defeated the American on grass in Bad Homburg last month.

In the other quarterfinal of the day, Australian Ajla Tomljanovic will face Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan.

Tomljanovic also made the last eight in 2021 where she was defeated by eventual champion Ashleigh Barty.

Russian-born Rybakina didn’t drop a set as she reached a second Slam quarterfinal after also making the last eight at the 2021 French Open.

– ‘It’s a gift’ –

Rybakina, who still lives in Moscow, has an impressive height of 1.84 meters and has hit 29 aces during the tournament so far.

In Monday’s win over Petra Martic, she unleashed the tournament’s second fastest serve at 122 miles (196 kilometers) per hour.

“I’ve never compared myself to anyone. I just know I have this gift. I’m tall and I play really fast,” Rybakina said.

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