If there’s one thing we’ve come to expect of Nadal, it’s that the Spaniard always makes a comeback. Despite having numerous occasions where critics either counted him out or the odds were stacked against him, Nadal exemplifies a fighting spirit on the court that opponents are unable to shake. His is a tenacity that is unparalleled, a doggedness that sees him dig deep and somehow claw his way to victory in the most entertaining fashion. It’s for this reason that his win at the 2022 Australian Open was all the more remarkable, with Nadal cementing his place in the history books with a staggering 21 Grand Slam singles titles to his name.
But just as the Spaniard was gearing up for the upcoming clay-court season, he’s met yet another significant obstacle after being diagnosed with a rib stress fracture following his straight-sets defeat against Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells final. With the medical diagnosis, Nadal will be sidelined for four to six weeks, a timeframe that will see him miss out on the Monte Carlo Masters while also making an appearance at the Barcelona Open unlikely. The Madrid Open will take place at the beginning of May and while we’d like to think we might see his return to clay, such an appearance would mean a rushed recovery for Nadal.
Taking to social media following tests in Spain, Nadal revealed the news to his followers. “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 downcast and sad because after the start of the season I have had such a good time.”
This isn’t Nadal’s first injury. Rather, the Spaniard’s career has been plagued by them in recent years. A foot injury saw him sidelined for the greater part of six months, making his comeback all the more significant. Nadal went on to win his first 20 matches of 2022 along with the Grand Slam title and others in Acapulco and Melbourne. But the sense of defeat he must now feel is understandable. After numerous setbacks, he was hoping to build a strong strength foundation that would carry him through the clay season and Roland Garros where he is chasing his 14th title.
Despite making it to the final at Indian Wells, Nadal said he suffered from breathing issues and sharp pains around the area of his injury. “I reached a very important part of the year with very good feelings and good results,” he said. “But I’ve always had that fighting and overcoming spirit and what I will do is be patient and work hard after my recovery.”
There’s no doubt if anyone can comeback stronger from injury, it’s Nadal. Set to turn 36 in June, he will need to prepare himself for the French Open where Djokovic will likely be playing, too. It’s also thought that the Serbian will make his return at the Monte Carlo Masters after only competing in one event in the first three months of the year due to his stance on Covid-19 vaccination.