In the Indian Wells Masters finals Rafael Nadal suffered heart and breathing problems. “It’s like a needle all the time inside,” was how he described it.
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Rafael Nadal was both concerned about a breathing problem and saddened by the end of his incredible winning streak in Indian Wells, when he was defeated by Taylor Fritz.
The 35-year-old had won his first 20 matches of the season, winning three titles, including his 21st grand slam trophy at the Australian Open, and was favoured to win the first Masters event in 2022.
Instead, that honour went to Fritz, a 24-year-old American who won 6-3 7-6 (5) in the biggest match of his career thus far.
Nadal needed treatment at the end of his semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz on Saturday after battling through many difficult matches to reach the final.
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From the beginning of Sunday’s final, it was evident that something was wrong, with Nadal refusing to chase down balls, clutching his chest, and losing the first four games.
He went off court with the doctor at the end of the first set, but he decided to continue and, despite his troubles, had a chance in the second.
The Spaniard said that figuring out what the problem is will be his top priority, “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 had previously decided not to compete in the Miami Open for the following two weeks, preferring to take a rest until the clay-court season begins next month.
In response to his first loss of the year, he said: “I wanted to make it perfect before clay. It has been very, very, very beautiful. Honestly I am sad because of the way I was not able to compete. It’s tough to have these feelings, every day, but in the final it’s very, very ugly.”
“But I am not the kind of person that goes down or goes very high emotionally depending on the moment. I am normally stable, putting everything in perspective.
“Of course, the last two months have been amazing, unforgettable, very emotional. I enjoyed things that I never thought I could live again a few months ago.
“Now is the moment to try to solve this problem as soon as possible, try to start on clay. The thing that worries me is about what’s going on there, what I have to do now to recover and how long it’s going to take.”
Fritz, who suffered an ankle problem late in his semi-final against Andrey Rublev and cut short his practise session on Sunday after only a few minutes, was a major concern heading into the final.
“This is seriously like a childhood dream come true, like a wild dream you never expect to actually happen,” said the American, who grew up only two hours away from Indian Wells and attended the tournament as a child.
Fritz was scared he wouldn’t be able to play because of his warm-up, adding, “I took one push-off step, I literally screamed. I tried it twice more. Both times, the worst pain imaginable. I was really upset, basically almost crying because I thought I was going to have to pull out.”
“I went to the doctor. We did a lot of work on it. We tried to numb it up and stuff like that.”
“A lot of members of my team wanted me to not play the match. I’m never going to let them forget that because I went on the court and it was a complete non-issue, didn’t feel it at all, didn’t hinder me at all.”
Recently, Iga Swiatek of Poland had won the women’s title with a dominant victory over Maria Sakkari.
Swiatek reached to world number two after a 6-4 6-1 victory against her Greek opponent in windy conditions.
Swiatek remarked in an on-court interview, “We’ve already started a pretty cool rivalry and I think it’s going to last a few more years so it’s pretty exciting.”
“We’re going to play many more finals. Today was pretty crazy because of the conditions. My team did an amazing job.”