Rafael Nadal will be sidelined for four to six weeks because of a rib injury, putting in jeopardy his preparations for the French Open in two months.
Nadal said Tuesday he underwent exams after arriving in Spain from the United States and results showed he has a stress fracture on one of his left ribs.
The injury was sustained in the semifinals at Indian Wells against Carlos Alcaraz. Nadal then lost in the final to Taylor Fritz in two sets on Sunday.
“This is not good news and I didn't expect it,” Nadal wrote on Twitter. “I'm devastated and sad because it comes after a great start to the season.”
Nadal was 20-0 to begin the season, including winning the Australian Open, before losing to Fritz 6-3, 7-6 (5) at the hard-court tournament in California. It was the third-best start to a season since 1990 on the ATP Tour. Nadal also won titles in Melbourne and Acapulco.
“I was getting to a very important part of the season feeling well and with good results,” Nadal said. “But well, I've always had this fighting spirit and what I'll do is be patient and work hard after recovering.”
The 35-year-old Nadal was treated by a trainer during the final against Fritz and afterward said the problem began the night before during the semifinals against Alcaraz.
Nadal had said he was not sure what exactly caused the discomfort, saying it was “painful" and "very uncomfortable” when he tried to breathe.
Nadal’s winning streak to begin 2022 included his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January.
The third-ranked Nadal will try to win a record-extending 14th French Open title at Roland Garros this year. He lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of last year's tournament in Paris.
Nadal's participation at the Madrid Open at the end of April will likely depend on how his recovery progresses. The Spaniard is a five-time champion in Madrid. He is not likely to play in the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open next month.
Nadal had already decided to skip this week’s tournament in Florida and head home to Spain to prepare for the clay-court season.
AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed to this report.
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