Rafael Nadal: ‘It felt like having a needle inside’


Rafael Nadal chased his 37th Masters 1000 crown in Indian Wells. Rafa fought against Taylor Fritz and experienced a 6-3, 7-6 defeat in two hours and six minutes. It was the season’s first loss for Nadal after 20 consecutive victories, struggling with pectoral muscles injury and playing below his best. Fritz also had issues with his ankle. However, he decided to play and give his best against a 21-time Major winner in his first Masters 1000 final. Nadal fought well, but it was not enough at least for a set after wasting too many chances in the second. Rafa admitted he felt a sharp pain while moving or breathing, describing it as having a needle inside. Nadal sprayed over 30 unforced errors and failed to force a decider against the younger opponent. The home player grabbed ten points more and defended eight out of ten break chances, mainly in the second set.

Rafael Nadal struggled with the pain against Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells final.

Rafa suffered four breaks and lost steam in the crucial moments to settle with the runner-up prize. Fritz seized the fourth break opportunity in the encounter’s first game and held at love in game two. The American broke again in game three and moved 4-0 up with another comfortable hold a few minutes later. Nadal pulled one break back in game eight to prolong the set and reduce the deficit to 5-3. Still, the Spaniard experienced the third break in game nine to give the set to Taylor. Rafa broke at 1-1 in the second set but could not stay in front for too long, as Taylor instantly pulled the break.

Fritz defended four break points at 2-2 for a massive boost and played against another break chance at 4-4. He stayed composed and saved it with a reliable backhand. The home favorite earned the match point after a running forehand down the line winner on the return at 5-4. Nadal saved it with a forehand attack and extended the battle, still unwilling to surrender. The Spaniard wasted two more break chances in the 11th game, which would cost him dearly. Rafa forged a 5-4 advantage in the tie break before spraying a forehand drive-volley error. Taylor moved 6-5 up with another mini-break and seized the second match point to lift a career-best title.

“I had pain, honestly. I had problems breathing, and I do not know if it was something on the rib. I do not know yet. When I was breathing and moving, it was like a needle inside all the time. I got dizzy a bit because it’s a pain that limits me a lot. It’s not only about pain; I do not feel very well because it affects my breathing. It’s more than being sad about the loss; that’s something I accepted immediately, already before the match ended. It’s more that I’m suffering a bit,” Rafael Nadal said.

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