A wounded and distressed-looking Rafael Nadal has been forced to retire from the US Open semi-final after suffering in agony due to a knee injury.
The Spanish player, 32, was visibly limping on the court as he took on Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro, but was forced to throw away the overall match two sets in when the struggle became too much. It is the second time he’s retired from a grand slam this year.
Del Potro had taken a lead in the first set before Nadal called it quits after the second, but the Argentinian was the first to rush to comfort the champion player after hearing he was retiring. Footage captured at the event showed the players embracing as del Potro appeared to console an upset Nadal.
“Of course it’s not the best way to win,” del Potro said afterwards, according to news.com.au. “I don’t like to see him suffer like this.”
Nadal’s decision came shortly after he disagreed with a line call midway through the second set. He has previously called for medics on the court after suffering with his injury, and had his knee massaged and re-taped before bravely continuing.
“I waited as much as I can. As you can imagine, it’s very difficult for me to say goodbye before the match finished,” Nadal said afterwards, the news outlet reports. “But at some point we had to take a decision.”
Viewers reported seeing Nadal begin to struggle mid-match, and shared their concerns online throughout.
One spectator tweeted shortly after: “Watching Nadal’s press conference after he retired due to injury. Poor guy – he looks and sounds absolutely despondent.”
And another added: “Man, gotta feel for Nadal, coming off a long duel, his knee didn’t look good all match. #USOpen.”
And one wrote: “Very sad to see Rafa retire hurt with a knee injury. The brutal matches against Khachanov, Basilashvili and Thiem took too much out of him. Hopefully he can still play Davis Cup SF for Spain. Devastating for it to happen in a Grand Slam SF. #USOpen.”
Nadal also quit during his quarter-final against Marin Cilic at the Australian Open in January.