Rafael Nadal has suffered a setback in his preparations for the upcoming clay court season after being diagnosed with a rib stress fracture.
The 35-year-old was beaten in straight sets by Taylor Fritz in the final of Indian Wells on Sunday, after having complained of discomfort in the left side of his chest during his semi-final match against his 18-year-old compatriot Carlos Alcaraz.
Nadal’s injury worsened in the final and despite a spirited display from the veteran Spaniard, Fritz held on to win his first Masters 1000 title.
Prior to Sunday’s setback, the Spaniard had been showing superb form this season. After returning from a lengthy absence due to a foot injury, he won his first 20 matches of 2022, including a 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open, as well as other titles in Acapulco and Melbourne.
How long will Nadal be sidelined for?
Nadal is set to be out of action for four to six weeks.
That timeframe will mean that he misses the Monte Carlo Masters, while an appearance at the Barcelona Open would be unlikely.
A return at the Madrid Open at the beginning of May would be possible, but not guaranteed.
What has Nadal said about his injury?
In the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s defeat to Fritz, Nadal admitted that he suffered from breathing issues and sharp pains around the area of his injury.
He said: “I reached a very important part of the year with very good feelings and good results.
“But I’ve always had that fighting and overcoming spirit and what I will do is be patient and work hard after my recovery.”
Since then, Nadal has shared news of his injury on social media following a series of tests in Spain, confirming that he is set to be sidelined for several weeks.
He said: “As it turns out, I have a stress crack in one of my ribs and will be out for four to six weeks.
“This is not good news and I did not expect this. I am downcast and sad because after the start of the season I have had such a good time.”
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.