Nadal won the Melbourne Summer Set before clinching his 21st Major at the Australian Open in spectacular fashion. He then went on to lift the Mexican Open trophy.
However, disaster struck for the Mallorcan at Indian Wells; he suffered a stress fracture in his ribs during his semi-final win over Carlos Alcaraz. The 35-year-old lost in the final to Taylor Fritz before medical tests revealed the extent of his injury. The Spaniard was told he would need to spend up to six weeks on the sidelines.
Speaking to Eurosport, six-time Slam champion Boris Becker opined that Nadal had an aura of invincibility before the injury.
"Nadal was actually considered invincible until he injured himself in the semi-final against Alcaraz, who played for over three hours," Becker said.
The German believes Nadal's ribs have an underlying issue, claiming that he himself suffered a similar problem during his playing days.
"Something must be wrong with his rib," Becker said. "I had that once too. It hurts a lot and it takes a long time until you can play properly again because you need it to breathe. And especially now for the clay court season, this is of course a big setback for him."
"Until the injury, he was considered the favorite for Roland Garros" - Boris Becker on Rafael Nadal
During the conversation, Boris Becker acknowledged that Rafael Nadal was initially the hands-down favorite for Roland Garros, but cautioned that things might no longer be the same.
"Until the injury, he was considered the favorite for Roland Garros and now he has to get healthy again and play his first matches on clay," Becker said. "And it is not yet clear when he will start again."
The German reckons the 21-time Major champion faces a race against time to be fit for the Paris Major.
"He won't play Monte Carlo. He also cancelled Barcelona, so Madrid at the earliest. Paris - that's in three weeks," Becker added. "So good luck that the Spaniard will be healthy."
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