The Australian Open champion had won 20 matches in a row so far this season but came unstuck against 24-year-old American Fritz, who triumphed 6-3 7-6 (5) to land the biggest victory of his career so far.

Nadal had battled through several close matches to reach the final and needed treatment at the end of his semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz on Saturday.

It was clear from the start of Sunday’s final that all was not well, with Nadal declining to chase down balls, rubbing his chest and losing the first four games.

He went off court at the end of the first set with the doctor but decided to carry on and had his chances in the second despite his struggles.

The Spaniard will prioritise finding out what the problem is, saying: “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.

“But I am not the kind of person that goes down or goes very high emotionally depending on the moment. I am normally stable, putting everything in perspective.

“Of course, the last two months have been amazing, unforgettable, very emotional. I enjoyed things that I never thought I could live again a few months ago.

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