Home Tennis Ahead of French Open, an Injury Interrupts Nadal’s Surge

Ahead of French Open, an Injury Interrupts Nadal’s Surge


SAN DIEGO — Rafael Nadal, the 21-time Grand Slam event singles champion, introduced Tuesday that he had a stress fracture in his rib cage and wouldn’t play for “four to six weeks.”

Such accidents might be sluggish to heal and tough to deal with. Nadal, 35 and again as much as No. 3 within the ATP Tour rankings after an excellent begin to the season, seems sure to overlook a major chunk of the clay-court season, together with subsequent month’s Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open.

Nadal is probably the most profitable clay-court participant in historical past, and 13 of his document 21 main titles have come on the French Open, which begins Might 22.

“This is not good news, and I did not expect this,” Nadal mentioned in Spanish on Tuesday in a social media publish. “I am downbeat and sad because after such a great start to the season, I was coming to a very important part of the year with very good feelings and results. But hey, I have always had this spirit to fight and to overcome and what I will do is have patience and work hard during my recovery.”

Nadal mentioned he injured the rib throughout his grueling three-set victory on Saturday within the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open over Carlos Alcaraz, his 18-year-old Spanish compatriot. Nadal struggled to breathe with out ache through the latter phases of that match, performed in blustery situations in Indian Wells, Calif. He was handled on the court docket however, nonetheless unclear on the severity of his damage, he selected to play in Sunday’s closing in opposition to Taylor Fritz of the USA.

Fritz, 24, defeated Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (5) to win probably the most important title of his profession. Nadal was clearly diminished: serving at slower speeds than standard. He took a medical timeout off court docket after the primary set and was handled on the court docket late within the second, wincing as he lay on his abdomen throughout a changeover and a tour coach labored on him. However Nadal nonetheless got here inside two factors of forcing a decisive third set.

He underwent medical assessments upon returning to Spain on Monday and is now again in an all-too-familiar mode: rehabilitating an damage. Nadal has handled accidents all through his outstanding profession and missed many of the second half of the 2021 season due to a continual foot situation after shedding to Novak Djokovic within the semifinals of the French Open. He caught the coronavirus in December however recovered shortly and gained his first 20 singles matches of the season, together with the Australian Open title.

However this can be a new kind of damage for Nadal, one that might recur and, in response to the retired orthopedic surgeon Invoice Mallon, may require longer than 4 to 6 weeks to heal. “You can’t put your rib in a cast,” Mallon mentioned.

Therapy choices are restricted, although some sufferers use bone stimulator units, which use electrical or ultrasonic impulses to attempt to pace therapeutic, mentioned Nicholas DiNubile, an American orthopedic surgeon. Nadal has by no means performed within the French Open with out competing in a preliminary occasion on clay. However it could possibly be a race in opposition to the clock to compete in early Might within the Madrid Open or Italian Open.

Earlier than saying the damage, Nadal had withdrawn from this week’s Miami Open, a Masters 1000 occasion on a hardcourt. Djokovic, again at No. 1, can even miss it due to the USA’ journey ban on unvaccinated foreigners. However Fritz, the rising American star who performed Sunday’s closing regardless of a proper ankle damage, is anticipated to play.

“With treatment and a late start, he should be good to go,” Paul Annacone, one in every of his coaches, mentioned Tuesday.

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