AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal is
reportedly expected to miss four-to-six weeks of action because of a
rib injury suffered during last week’s 2022 BNP Paribas Open.

Marca’s Joan Solsona reported Tuesday
(h/t Ben Rothenberg of Racquet Magazine) that Nadal originally
suffered the stress injury during a semifinal win over Carlos Alcaraz
but still played the championship match against Taylor Fritz, which
he lost in straight sets.

Nadal won his first 20 matches of the
2022 season, highlighted by capturing his record-setting 21st Grand
Slam title at the Australian Open in January, before suffering his
first loss of the campaign to Fritz.

Afterward, the 35-year-old Spaniard said the injury was a major factor on Sunday.

“I had pain, honestly. I had problems
breathing,” Nadal told reporters. “I don’t know if it’s something
on the rib, I don’t know yet. When I’m breathing, when I’m moving
it’s like a needle all the time inside here. I get dizzy a little bit
because it’s painful.”

He also continued to deal with a
lingering foot injury earlier in the tournament.

The good news for Nadal is the
projected timetable for his return should allow him back on the court
before the next major. The French Open is scheduled to begin May 22,
which is eight weeks away.

Of course, that’s always an important
stop for Nadal, who’s captured a record 13 titles at Roland-Garros to
earn the nickname “The King of Clay.”

Even if he misses the early portion of
the clay-court season, he should be able to get at least one warm-up
event in before arriving in Paris, barring a setback.

Another triumph in the French Open
would give Nadal a two-major lead over his closest competition,
longtime rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who each own 20
Grand Slam titles.

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