MELBOURNE, Australia — An injured and visibly struggling Rafael Nadal retired while trailing in the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal match against Marin Cilic.
Nadal, No. 1 in the world, fended off five break points in the last game before Cilic broke his serve, then the 16-time major winner went to shake hands with the umpire and his opponent, and angrily hurled his headband into his equipment bag.
No. 6-seeded Cilic advanced to his first semifinal in Australia since 2010 with a score of 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 2-0, retired.
Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, will next play No. 49-ranked Kyle Edmund, who beat No. 3-ranked Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time.
Nadal limped into a news conference about a half-hour later, still wincing when he stepped up onto a platform. He said he felt muscle pain in his upper right leg in the third set but played through it. In the fourth set, chasing a drop shot, he felt the pain get worse “but didn’t realize how bad.”
THE BIG seeds just kept on falling at the Australian Open on day nine with Grigor Dimitrov and Rafael Nadal joining the exit queue on a dramatic day of tennis at Melbourne Park.
World No. 3 Dimitrov missed another chance to push for grand slam success when he was stunned by unseeded English star Kyle Edmund.
It means two of the four semi-finalists in the men’s singles draw will be unseeded by the time American Tennys Sandgren and Korean Hyeon Chung play out their quarter-final on Wednesday.
It was up to Nadal to reverse the trend, but after a marathon three hours, 48 minute marathon against Marin Cilic, the No. 1 seed was also packing his bags.
On the women’s side unseeded Belgian Elise Mertens continued her dream run at Melbourne Park with a straight sets victory over World No. 4 Elina Svitolina.
Caroline Wozniacki — fresh from hitting her first ever successful tweener in a match — may need to pull out some more tricks to overcome veteran Carla Suarez Navarro in the other quarter-final of the day.