'Don't know': Rafa Nadal's shock admission after Indian Wells drama
Rafael Nadal has admitted he has concerns about his fitness for the upcoming clay court swing later this year, following his loss in the final at Indian Wells.
After winning his first 20 matches of 2022, including a historic 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open, Nadal was finally stopped by American star Taylor Fritz in straight sets on Monday.
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Fritz, the world No.8, eased past Nadal 6-3 7-6 (7-5) to claim his first victory on Tour for the year after entering the match under a serious injury cloud.
His own coach had cautioned against playing the final so as not to aggravate an ankle-injury he picked up in his semi-final victory over Andrey Rublev.
It was a risk that paid off though, with Nadal dealing with a yet-unknown upper body injury which he says limited his breathing during the Indian Wells final.
The issue first showed itself late in his semi-final victory over 18-year-old compatriot Carlos Alcaraz and he twice received treatment during his loss to Fritz.
"I had pain, honestly," Nadal said.
"I have problem to breathe. I don't know if it's 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," he said, indicating his chest.
"I get dizzy a little bit because it's painful. It's a kind of pain that limit me a lot. Is not only about pain, I don't feel very well because affects my breathing."
The latest issue is an agonising setback for Nadal, who missed almost the entire 2021 season has he recovered from a foot procedure which threatened to force him into retirement.
Fortunately for tennis fans, Nadal made a comeback from the foot problem to win at Melbourne Park and Acapulco earlier this year, as well as making the Indian Wells final.
Rafael Nadal disappointed after latest injury setback
Boasting the hottest record in tennis heading into the final, Nadal admitted he was disappointed not to enter the clay court swing with his perfect record intact.
With the tour soon set to navigate over to the Spaniard's preferred court surface, any issues recovering from his upper-body issue could jeopardise Nadal's French Open tilt - a tournament he has made his own with a record 13 victories.
"I am sad now, but I am not the kind of person that goes down or goes very high emotionally depending on the moment," he said.
"The last months have been amazing, unforgettable, very emotional. I enjoyed things that I never thought I could live again a few months ago.
"Now it's the moment to try to solve this problem as soon as possible, try to start on clay. The thing that worries me now, it's about what's going on there, what I have to do now to recover and how long going to take."
While Nadal has been known for taking a generally humble approach throughout his career, even he admitted it was disappointing not to have the chance to stretch his undefeated record in 2022 even further.
The 35-year-old superstar was reluctant to discuss the upper body injury that hindered him against Fritz, insisting "it's his day," but he couldn't hide his disappointment and the worry about what it might mean for the claycourt season and his chances of a 14th French Open title.
"Honestly, I wanted to make it perfect before clay," Nadal said of a 2022 hardcourt run that saw him win an epic Australian Open final against Daniil Medvedev and lift the trophy in Acapulco.
He said the first months of the year "have been very, very, very beautiful."
"Honestly I am sad because the way I was not able to compete," he said of his inability to finish off the run with a fourth Indian Wells title.
"It is tough to have these feelings, especially every day, but in the final is very, very ugly, no?
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