Djokovic ‘cleared out of the way’ for Nadal says host
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Rafael Nadal has spoken out after being diagnosed with a rib stress fracture which could wreak havoc with his French Open preparations. The Spaniard was pipped in the BNP Paribas Open final by Taylor Fritz on Sunday after complaining of breathing difficulties.
Nadal enjoyed a stellar start to the season and was on a sensational 20-match winning run by the time Fritz came out on top in California. Nick Kyrgios and Carlos Alcaraz had both been dispatched en route to Sunday’s final, where the 35-year-old had a chance to triumph for the first time since 2013.
Per a report from Marca, Nadal’s doctor claims that a rib stress fracture occurred during that semi-final with Alcaraz. A prospective absence of between four and six weeks is set to hamper his Roland Garros preparations, with the tournament set to get underway on May 22.
His comeback from injury could allow him to compete at the Mutua Madrid Open and Italian Open in May, but the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell both look to be out of the equation.
Nadal’s social media statement read: “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’s hampered preparations will be music to the ears of ‘big three’ rival Novak Djokovic, who will shoot for his second consecutive French Open title in a few weeks’ time. The Serb has faced an uncertain future since being deported on the eve of the Australian Open earlier this year over a Covid vaccination row.
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