Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal is out for four to six weeks with a cracked rib suffered during the Indian Wells final loss against Taylor Fritz on Sunday.
Nadal was visibly struggling to breathe during the match, saying afterwards that he was finding it “difficult”, having had to lie down at times to receive treatment.
The 35-year-old had been struggling with a pectoral injury during the tournament but on his return to Spain on Tuesday he told reporters that he was “all good".
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However, after consultation with doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, it has been revealed that he has a stress crack in the third-left costal arch - an injury that occurred during the match.
The time frame for his recovery will be four to six weeks, and that will leave him with limited preparation time for the 2022 French Open as he looks to take back his long-standing crown from rival Novak Djokovic.
Nadal is quoted by Marca and Cadena Ser as saying, "This is not good news and I did not expect this.
"I am devastated and sad because after the good start of the season that I have had, 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, I would like to thank everyone for their support.”

Highlights: Fritz claims first Masters title with stunning win over Nadal at Indian Wells

Nadal, who was the red-hot favourite heading into the final, saw his 20-match streak come to an astonishing halt as the 20th seed Fritz claimed a 6-3 7-6 victory to become the first American to lift the trophy since Andre Agassi in 2001.
The Spaniard, who has moved up to No. 3 in the ATP world rankings, could not hide his disappointment during the trophy ceremony on Sunday as he missed out on a record-equalling 37th Masters title.
Speaking in his press conference, Nadal reflected on his disappointment at not quite achieving his mission of remaining unbeaten until the clay-court season and revealed what he had been having to contend with physically during the showpiece match.
"Honestly, I wanted to make it perfect before [the] clay," Nadal admitted. "[It would] have been very, very, very beautiful.
"Honestly, I am sad because of the way I was not able to compete. It is tough to have these feelings, every day, but especially in the final is very, very ugly. But, yeah, in sport it is not about talking of the past. We need to talk about today, and today is a difficult day for me.
"I had problems breathing. I don't know if it is something on the rib, I don't know yet. When I'm breathing, when I'm moving, it's like a needle all the time inside here. I get dizzy a little bit because it's painful. It's a kind of pain that limits me a lot.
"It is not only about pain, I don't feel very well because it affects my breathing. [I am] more than sad [about the breathing] than for the loss, something that I accepted immediately, and even before the match ended, it's more about that I am suffering a little bit, honestly."
After his stunning triumph at Melbourne Park to begin the year by winning his 21st Grand Slam title, this is a sizeable setback for the veteran, who had been enjoying a wonderful stretch of form and fitness following a number of issues last season.

Nadal's Top 5 shots on his way to winning the Australian Open

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