Rafa Nadal has suffered a stress fracture in his rib and will be out for up to six weeks, the Spaniard’s team said on Tuesday.
Nadal, the winner of 21 Grand Slam singles titles, complained of a chest issue during his run to the final of the ATP 1000 event in Indian Wells, California last week.
The Spaniard bravely battled on against American Taylor Fritz despite struggling with his rib problem before losing 6-3, 7-6 – and later claimed he had breathing difficulties throughout the match.
Rafael Nadal is set to be out of action for up to six weeks with a rib stress fracture
The Spaniard (R) battled bravely with the problem in his Indian Wells final loss to Taylor Fritz (L)
He was also suffering from the same issue in his semi-final win over Carlos Alcaraz – being forced to battle to a 6-4 4-6 6-3 – but the three-set victory took its toll and he wasn’t able to pull through in the final.
Confirming the news on Twitter, Nadal wrote: ‘Hello everyone, I wanted to announce that I have returned to Spain and I immediately went to visit my medical team to do the tests after the Indian Wells final that I played with discomfort.
‘As it turns out, I have a stress crack in one of my ribs and will be out for 4-6 weeks. This is not good news and I did not expect this. I am sunk and sad because after the start of the season I have had such a good time.
‘I reached a very important part of the year with very good feelings and good results. But hey, I’ve always had that fighting and overcoming spirit and what I will do is be patient and work hard after my recovery. Once again thank everyone for the support.’
Nadal admitted he was ‘sunk and sad’ after confirming the news, having lost his 20-match unbeaten streak against Fritz
His loss to Fritz ended his 20-match winning streak and after the match he explained how a feeling like a ‘needle’ hampered his performance and led to breathing issues, before discovering the problem was due to the rib stress fracture.
‘When I’m breathing, when I’m moving, it’s like a needle all the time inside. I get dizzy a little bit because it’s painful. It’s a kind of pain that limits me a lot. It’s not only about pain, I don’t feel very well because it affects my breathing.’
Nadal had already decided not to play in the Miami Open over the next fortnight and will instead have a short break before the clay-court season begins next month.
He said of his first defeat of the year: ‘I wanted to make it perfect before clay. It has been very, very, very beautiful. Honestly I am sad because of the way I was not able to compete. It’s tough to have these feelings, every day, but in the final it’s very, very ugly.’
His doctor said that the 35-year-old will be out of action for “four to six weeks”, ruling him out of next month’s Monte Carlo Masters and putting doubts over his participation in the ATP 1000 events in Madrid and Rome in May.
The French Open, the year’s second major at Roland Garros where Nadal has won a record 13 titles, is scheduled to start from May 22.
Nadal started the 2022 season unprepared and with uncertainty looming over him due to a foot problem that forced him to miss a chunk of the 2021 season including Wimbledon, the Olympics and the U.S. Open.
After suffering a bout of COVID-19 before arriving in Melbourne in January, Nadal said he had even considered retiring when the foot problem that has troubled him throughout his career resurfaced last year.
But that did not stop the left-hander from winning three consecutive titles in 2022, including the Australian Open that helped him to increase his major haul to 21 and take sole ownership of the men’s record he had previously shared with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.