'We don't know': Tennis fans saddened by Rafa Nadal development

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·Sports Editor
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Rafael Nadal, pictured here acknowledging the crowd after the Indian Wells final.
Rafael Nadal acknowledges the crowd after the Indian Wells final. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Tennis fans have been left heartbroken after Rafa Nadal's team confirmed he will not be able to defend his title at the upcoming Barcelona Open.

Nadal announced last month that he had suffered a fractured rib at Indian Wells and would be out for 4-6 weeks.

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The Spaniard needed treatment during the semi-final and final in California and was clearly hampered in his straight-sets defeat to Taylor Fritz.

He then revealed on social media that he will likely be out until May.

Nevertheless, fans were still holding out hope that the 21-time grand slam champion might make an early return in time to defend his title at the Barcelona Open next week.

That would be around the 3-4 week mark after his injury.

But Nadal's team announced this week that he is not yet ready to return, meaning he will miss the event for the first time since 2010.

“Rafa has just been withdrawn from the entry list in Barcelona,” his team told Reuters.

“We don’t know yet when he will be at his first tournament on clay this year. Hopefully, soon.”

Rafa Nadal, pictured here in obvious discomfort at Indian Wells.
Rafa Nadal was in obvious discomfort at Indian Wells. (Photo by Cynthia Lum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Nadal has won the Barcelona Open a record 12 times, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final last year.

Should he be ready to return after six weeks, Nadal could be available for the Rome Masters on May 2.

The Madrid Open is scheduled to begin on April 26 ahead of the French Open on May 22.

Nadal generally likes to play as much as possible in the lead-up to Roland Garros and has only ever failed to win a Masters 1000 event before the French Open twice in his career.

That happened in 2015 when he lost in the quarter-finals at the French Open, and 2020 when he won the grand slam for a 13th time.

Fans were left saddened that they won't see Nadal in Barcelona for the first time in 12 years.

Rafa Nadal's 20-0 start to year before injury

Nadal was in scintillating form before being struck down by the injury, starting the year 20-0 before his loss to Fritz.

He won events in Melbourne and Acapulco, along with his 21st major title at the Australian Open.

"Hello everyone, 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," he wrote on social media last month.

"As it turns out, I have a stress crack in one of my ribs and will be out for four to six weeks.

"This is not good news and I did not expect this.

"I am down 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 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 thank everyone for the support."

The injury also forced Nadal to miss the current Monte Carlo Masters - an event he has won 11 times.

with agencies

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