Rafael Nadal out 4-6 weeks with cracked rib, shortening his clay court season

·2 min read

Rafael Nadal's quest to widen his Grand Slam lead over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer just took a hit.

Nadal announced on Tuesday that he sustained a stress crack in one of his ribs while he was playing at Indian Wells last week, and he'll be out at least 4-6 weeks.

"This is not good news and I did not expect this,” Nadal told Marca via Tennis.com. “I am devastated and sad because after such a good start of the season, 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.”

Nadal made it all the way to the finals at Indian Wells before losing to American Taylor Fritz. He said after the match that it was hard to breathe at times, so the rib fracture definitely impacted his finish.

This injury and recovery time will take a big bite out of his prep time for clay court season. Rafa is known as the master of clay courts, but even the master needs time to train and ramp up. The 4-6 week recovery timeline doesn't rule him out of the French Open, which he's won an incredible 13 times, but he'll be cutting it close. The 4-6-week timeline brings us to late April/early May, with the French Open beginning May 22.

This development is disappointing on its own, but incredibly frustrating in context. Nadal looked great at the Australian Open in January, gradually getting better throughout the tournament and then coming back from a two-set deficit to beat Daniil Medvedev and win his record 21st Grand Slam. He showed the same grit and gumption at Indian Wells, which brought a lot of hope for how he'd perform during the clay court season.

Nadal said in his tweets (translated via Twitter) that he's disappointed by the injury because he was having such a good time playing and had reached this important part of the season with both good feelings and good results. But he also said that he will use his fighting spirit to work hard in his rehab and get back to playing competitive tennis.

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after a point lost to Taylor Fritz of the US in their ATP Men's Final at the Indian Wells tennis tournament on March 20, 2022 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a rib fracture. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)