Rafa Nadal's staggering post-match act after 'devastating' drama

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Rafa Nadal, pictured here paying a classy tribute to Taylor Fritz after the Indian Wells final.
Rafa Nadal paid a classy tribute to Taylor Fritz after the Indian Wells final. Image: Tennis TV

Rafa Nadal has paid a classy tribute to Taylor Fritz and the Indian Wells crowd after having his unbeaten start to 2022 snapped in heartbreaking fashion.

Nadal came into Sunday's final at Indian Wells on a 20-0 run to begin the year, but the Spanish champion was undone by an inspired Fritz and what appeared to be a chest injury.

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Nadal was clearly struggling and in pain throughout the match, calling an injury timeout at the end of the first set and receiving treatment throughout the second.

While Nadal produced an inspirational display when it looked as though he would have to retire hurt, it wasn't enough as Fritz prevailed 6-3 7-6 (5) for his first Masters 1000 title.

Despite his heartbreak after missing out on a fourth Indian Wells title, Nadal was all class in the aftermath of the match.

The 21-time grand slam champion congratulated Fritz at the net before paying tribute to him in his runner-up speech.

"Congrats to Taylor and your team, you are doing great," Nadal said.

"I know it's a big day for all of you so enjoy it.

"All the very best for the future and many congratulations for today."

Nadal also made no mention of the fact he was injured, simply conceding that Fritz was the better player on the day.

"I tried my best during the last two weeks," he said.

"Today was not possible. I had a good fight to the end."

Fans took to social media to commend Nadal on his classy display in defeat.

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Nadal fought off a match point on his serve with a forehand winner to tie the second set at 5-5.

He had two break points on Fritz’s serve in the next game, but the American held for a 6-5 lead before Nadal held to force the tie-breaker.

Nadal sent two straight forehands well wide to set up Fritz’s second match point.

And another Nadal error sent the 24-year-old American to the biggest victory of his career.

Fritz dropped his racquet and collapsed onto his back in shock.

Taylor Fritz, pictured here celebrating after beating Rafa Nadal in the Indian Wells final.
Taylor Fritz celebrates after beating Rafa Nadal in the Indian Wells final. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old is the first American to win the tournament since Andre Agassi in 2001.

"Winning this tournament is just one of those crazy childhood dreams that you don't think is ever going to happen," Fritz said.

"It's an honour to even be on the same court as this guy.

"I grew up watching this guy win everything."

Nadal took two medical timeouts during the match, going inside with a trainer after tapping his upper left chest - the same area that bothered him during Saturday's semi-finals.

He got treatment on court after falling behind 5-4 in the second set.

While Nadal to move up one place to third in the rankings when they are updated on Monday, Fritz will jump seven spots to a career-high 13th.

Fans were left gutted for Nadal that the injury ruined his title charge and broke his undefeated streak.

with agencies

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