Sport: Rafael Nadal's French Open prep derailed as Spaniard yet to train on court amid rib injury

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  Carlos Alcaraz may be about to follow in Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal's footsteps CARLOS ALCARAZ has been widely tipped as the next big thing in tennis, and has won comparisons to fellow Spanish legend Rafael Nadal.He has backed up his appearance in the last four at Indian Wells, and in the process became the youngest player to reach the semis of the two events, known as the 'sunshine double'. In a tweet posted by ATP Media InfoLink, Nadal and Djokovic, as well as Andy Murray and Andre Agassi, also reached the Indian Wells Miami semis finals as teenagers and went on to become the world number one.

Rafael Nadal is yet to return to practising his tennis after getting injured in Indian Wells © Getty Rafael Nadal is yet to return to practising his tennis after getting injured in Indian Wells

Rafael Nadal's French Open preparations appear to be under threat after it was revealed the Spaniard was yet to return to training after picking up a rib injury in Indian Wells. The world No 4 officially withdrew from next week's Barcelona Open on Tuesday and his return is now uncertain.

Nadal started the season with a 20-match winning streak, picking up titles in Melbourne, Acapulco and the Australian Open, but picked up an injury in his most recent victory against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells. After losing his next match to Taylor Fritz in the final, the Spaniard announced he would be out for four to six weeks with a stress fracture in his rib.

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  Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal warned about world No 1 spot by Carlos Alcaraz CARLOS ALCARAZ is through to the final of the Miami Open.Alcaraz has enjoyed an impressive start to the 2022 season, losing just two matches so far at the Australian Open and Indian Wells. He became the youngest-ever ATP 500 champion when he won the Rio Open in February and could become the youngest champion at Masters 1000 level by defeating Casper Ruud in the upcoming Miami Open final.

It meant he would miss the first few events on his most successful surface and, while there was some hope the world No 4 could make an early comeback in Barcelona next week, his team officially confirmed he would not be playing the ATP 500 event and it has now been disclosed that Nadal is yet to return to practising his tennis during his injury layoff, throwing a spanner in the works for his French Open hopes.

"He does the gym, but nothing that hurts him and therefore obviously not with the racket," a person close to the Spaniard told AFP after the announcement of his withdrawal from Barcelona. "He is still suffering from his ribs and as expected when his injury was announced, he needs four to six weeks. We are at three, so logically he will not be able to play again in Barcelona."

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Rafael Nadal picked up an injury in Indian Wells © Getty Rafael Nadal picked up an injury in Indian Wells

Nadal was spotted training in the gym of his Rafa Nadal Academy just a week after announcing his injury layoff but is yet to pick up a racket, with doubts over when he will make his return from his latest injury. With the French Open now less than six weeks away, it will be a race against time for the 13-time champion to get back on the practice courts in time to get some warm-up events under his belt for the Grand Slam.

He was expected to be back in action at the Madrid Masters kicking off on May 1 as well as the Masters 1000 in Rome the following week but Nadal's team admitted there was no solid date for the Spaniard's return after he pulled out of Barcelona. In a statement released on Tuesday, they said: "Rafa has just been withdrawn from the entry list in Barcelona. We don't know yet when he will be at his first tournament on clay this year. Hopefully, soon."

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Rafael Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic in last year's French Open © Getty Rafael Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic in last year's French Open

Nadal is one of the favourites to win the French Open, where he is a 13-time champion. The world No 4 clinched a record 21st Grand Slam title in Australia earlier this year - the most in history for a male singles player - and could extend his lead on the Parisian clay if he recovers in time for his most successful tournament.

The Spaniard will be gunning to get his hands on the La Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy after crashing out to Novak Djokovic in last year's semi-final. With the world No 1 looking rusty after his lack of tournaments this season, Nadal will look to capitalise and extend his records for a 14th French Open and 22nd Grand Slam title.

Nick Kyrgios worry emerges as Mats Wilander slams 'atrocious' copycat behaviour .
NICK KYRGIOS has received sanctions in 2022 for his conduct at both the Indian Wells Masters and Miami Open.However, he's since fallen foul of the authorities for his conduct at tournaments in both Indian Wells and Miami. In California, he was fined around £19,000 for nearly hitting a ballboy when he smashed his racket, as he exited the tournament to Rafael Nadal.

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