Rafael Nadal hit with big injury blow to hand Novak Djokovic French Open advantage

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Rafael Nadal has been diagnosed with a rib stress fracture which looks likely to put him out of action for between four and six weeks. The news will provide a boost to Novak Djokovic’s chances of prevailing to Roland Garros, where Nadal has been so dominant over the course of his career. 

Nadal was beaten in the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday as 20th-seed American Taylor Fritz prevailed 6-3 7-5(5). The 21-time Grand Slam winner had beaten the likes of Dan Evans, Carlos Alcaraz and Nick Kyrgios en route to the final which ultimately ended in disappointment. 

It was the 35-year-old’s first loss in 21 matches this season, and he complained of breathing difficulties during the defeat. In toppling his legendary opponent, Fritz became the first American to triumph at Indian Wells in over two decades. 

With the dust now settled, tennis journalist Luigi Gatto claims that Nadal has been struck with a rib stress fracture. That is likely to keep him out for between four and six weeks which could severely hamper his preparations for the French Open. 

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