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Rafael Nadal tipped for early injury return as French Open runner-up shares Barcelona hope

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RAFAEL NADAL suffered a stress fracture in one of his ribs during Indian Wells.

Rafael Nadal has been given a boost in his injury recovery as former world No 3 David Ferrer shared his belief that the Spaniard would be ready for his most successful part of the season, the clay swing. Nadal picked up a rib injury in Indian Wells and is set to miss the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open as a result but Ferrer has tipped his former rival to return sooner.

Nadal had enjoyed a career-best start to the season, winning his first 20 matches and picking up titles in Melbourne, Acapulco and the Australian Open. His run came to an end in the Indian Wells final when Taylor Fritz defeated him 6-3 7-6(5) to win his maiden Masters title after the world No 3 picked up an injury in the previous round.

The 21-time Major champion needed a medical time out during his semi-final win over Carlos Alcaraz and later found out that he had suffered a stress fracture to one of his ribs, forcing him out of competition for four to six weeks. It means he will be sidelined for the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo and the ATP 500 in Barcelona at the start of the clay-court swing.

Rafael-Nadal

After going undefeated in his first 20 matches of the year and picking up a record 21st Grand Slam trophy, Nadal is the favourite to extend his lead of Major title wins to 22 at the French Open, his most successful tournament where he is a 13-time champion but the injury could dash his hopes if he has little time to prepare and get match play on the clay beforehand

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However, retired former pro-turned-Barcelona Open tournament director David Ferrer believes his former rival could be ready in time for a full clay season. The former world No 3 reached his only Grand Slam final at the French Open in 2013 where he was defeated by his compatriot, and has maintained a good relationship with Nadal.

“I am calm, really,” the Barcelona tournament director said of the possibility Nadal could miss the event, per AS. “I think Rafa has time to recover before the gravel tour.”

The 34-year-old is the defending champion in Barcelona, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in a thrilling three-set final last year to pick up his 12th title at the tournament that has named its centre court after Nadal himself.

Rafael-Nadal

He is currently set to return in time for the Madrid Masters, beginning on May 1, and will also be able to compete in the Italian Open before bidding for a 14th French Open crown at the end of May

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