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Rafael Nadal’s doctor explains injury plan with key aim to speed up return

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RAFAEL NADAL has been sidelined by a stress fracture in one of his ribs.

Rafael Nadal’s doctor has spoken out after the Spaniard confirmed he would be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a rib injury. The world No 3 picked up an injury during his Indian Wells semi-final and played through it in the final against Taylor Fritz. He is now set to miss the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open but his doctor has admitted they are hoping to shorten his injury layoff period.

Nadal’s perfect start to the season came to an end in Indian Wells, as the 35-year-old lost his first match of the year in the final and picked up an injury. The world No 3 appeared to be getting treatment for a pectoral issue in his semi-final win over Carlos Alcaraz and looked hampered by the same problem as he lost the final to first-time Masters champion Taylor Fritz the following day.

After returning to Spain, the world No 3 confirmed he had cracked one of his ribs during the tournament and would be out of competition for 4-6 weeks as a result. His injury layoff means he will not be able to start the clay-court season – his notoriously most successful surface – with the recovery time including the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open, where Nadal is an 11 and 12-time champion respectively.

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Prior to the Indian Wells final, the Spaniard was 20-0 for the season, a career-best start, which included titles in Melbourne, Acapulco and a record 21st Grand Slam title in Acapulco. He had been gunning for Djokovic’s record of 37 Masters 1000 titles which he would have tied by winning Indian Wells, and could have started chasing the world No 1 in the rankings with some strong showings in the clay-court season.

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But Nadal’s doctor has now outlined the plan for the road to recovery and admitted there could be hope for a shorter time away from the tour. Speaking to RadiogacetaRNE, Dr Angel Ruiz Cotorro said: “We’re going to adapt the work in function of the pain. For now, priority is to remove the pain. Once the pain’s removed we’ll be working as much as we can.”

The doctor had diagnosed the world No 3 with “a stress crack in the third left costal arch” that he said “occurred in the semifinal match on Saturday in Indian Wells.” He then said they would be looking to reduce Nadal’s time out depending on how soon the pain disappeared but said the 4-6 week mark had been a realistic one.

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“With this in mind & the evolution it has, we’ll see if we can shorten the time, tho 4-6 weeks is quite logical,” he added. Meanwhile, Nadal has shared his disappointment after having his perfect start to the year derailed just before his best period of the season.

“This is not good news and I did not expect this. I am sunk and sad because after the start of the season I have had such a good time,” he tweeted after announcing the stress fracture. “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 thank everyone for the support.”

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