World number one Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw in the fifth set during his epic quarter-final clash with Marin Cilic at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Nadal and Cilic toiled for five sets on the Rod Laver Arena until a visibly limping Nadal failed to hold serve, going 2-0 down in the final set, after which he shook hands and called it a night.
The Spaniard lamented a missed opportunity to get the the semis and perhaps reach the final for a second consecutive year.
“It’s not the first time an opportunity has gone for me,” said the 31-year-old in the post-match press conference.
“I am a positive person, and I can be positive, but today it was an opportunity lost to be in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam and fight for an important title…I don’t want to say frustration, but it’s really tough to accept, especially after a tough December.
“I worked hard to be here. We did all the things that we believed were the right things to do to be ready. I think I was ready. I was playing okay. I was playing a match that anything could happen: I could win, I could lose. I’m being honest, he was playing good, too… But I was fighting for it…”
Get well soon @RafaelNadal.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2018
Nadal was bombarded with questions about the seriousness of the injury, which appeared to be high on his right leg, but he said only time will tell.
“I can’t say because I don’t know,” continued the 16-time grand slam winner.
“It is difficult to know exactly the muscle. We need to wait a couple of hours…tomorrow I am going to do a test, an MRI here. Then we will know.
“I started to feel the muscle [got a] little bit [tired] in the third set, but [I was] playing normal, no limitations. Then, in the fourth set, on one movement, one drop shot I think, I felt something. At that moment, I thought something happened, but I didn’t realise how bad it was [or] what was going on in that moment.”