May 27, 2016
Rafael Nadal has pulled out of Roland Garros with a wrist injury – increasing the likelihood that Novak Djokovic could complete a Career Slam in Paris next week.
Novak and Rafa both looked in good form and seemed on collision course for what promised to be an epic semi-final.
One school of thought suggested that the winner of that clash would be so drained by the experience that Andy Murray, should he reach the final, might even have benefited.
Now Djokovic doesn’t have to worry about Nadal any more, though you had to feel sorry for the popular Spaniard – and a sportsman like Novak will feel for him too.
Nadal revealed last night that he had secretly been nursing an injury. ‘Yesterday I played with an injection. Yesterday evening I started to feel more and more pain and today I felt I could not move my wrist.’
He even suggested that he could have snapped his wrist had he continued to numb it while playing on.
Nadal concluded:’This is the toughest press conference I have ever had to give but it’s not the end.’
At least Andy Murray looked more capable of giving Djokovic a run for his money yesterday, judging by the clinical way he took apart big Ivo Karlovic in straight sets.
Murray broke immediately at the start of the first two sets. And although Karlovic tested him more in the third, Andy’s newfound sharpness meant that he thoroughly deserved his 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) victory.
Meanwhile home favourite Richard Gasquet used all his craft and cool to dispose of a typically bad-tempered Nick Kyrgios 6-2, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2, that second-set tie-break the moment the Australian’s resistance was effectively broken.
And Kei Nishikori needed five sets to edge out Fernando Verdasco and his comeback bid by 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4.
Murray won’t mind hearing that one of his rivals was also caught up in an energy-sapping five-setter.
But it was that shock withdrawal by Nadal that was the talk of Paris last night.