'It's very, very ugly' – Nadal streak ends amid fresh injury concerns

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Rafael Nadal is facing new injury concerns, after Taylor Fritz ended his unbeaten streak for 2022 in the Indian Wells Masters final on Sunday.

Having to take a medical timeout during his win in the semi-final against countryman Carlos Alcaraz, the 35-year-old was forced into another injury break against Fritz, before losing 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

Nadal, whose 2021 was halted mid-year due to a foot injury after back pain at the start of the season, ultimately rued his inability to fully compete against Fritz.

"I had pain, honestly. I had problems breathing," he said post-match. "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. I get dizzy a little bit because it's painful.

"It's a kind of pain that limits me a lot. It's not only about pain, I don't feel very well because [it] affects my breathing."

Nadal's 20-match unbeaten streak for 2022, which saw him claim the Australian Open and Acapulco titles in the process, also came to an end on Sunday. The world number four said the streak ending before coming into the clay season provides particular sadness.

"Honestly, I wanted to make it perfect before clay. [It] has been very, very, very beautiful," Nadal said.

"Honestly, I am sad because the way I was not able to compete. It's tough to have these feelings….but in the final it's very, very ugly. But in sport it's not about talking of the past, we need to talk about today. And today is a difficult day for me. "

Nadal commended Fritz on the victory, however. The 24-year-old claimed his maiden ATP 1000 title despite carrying an ankle injury.

According to the 21-time grand slam winner, it is a sign of things to come from the American, who had to back up from a tough win over Andrey Rublev in the semi-final on Saturday.

"Victories like today help. He played well. He went through some great matches during this week I think, especially yesterday," he said.

"A lot of credit to him on the victory of yesterday. In my opinion, his victory of yesterday is much bigger than his victory of today because he had [a] much tougher opponent in from yesterday.

"He already played great matches in Australia, this year if I'm not wrong, against [Stefanos] Tsitsipas.

"It's obvious that he is improving. With this victory, it's a great start of the season for him. He will have a chance to be very close if not in the top 10 very soon."

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