Rafael Nadal will be out of action for up to six weeks due to a stress fracture of the rib, denting his build-up up to French Open in late May.
Nadal complained of breathing difficulties during his 6-3 7-6 (7-5) defeat to Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells Final.
The Spaniard won a record 21st grand slam singles title when he beat Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open in January.
Thirteen of Nadal’s major wins have come at the French Open, with the 35-year-old triumphing at Roland Garros four years in a row between 2017 and 2020 before he lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2021 semi-finals.
This year’s French Open runs from May 22 to June 5.
Writing on Twitter, Nadal said: “Hello everyone, I wanted to announce that I have returned to Spain and I immediately went to visit my medical team to do the tests after the Indian Wells final that I played with discomfort.
“As it turns out, I have a stress crack in one of my ribs and will be out for four to six weeks. This is not good news and I did not expect this.”
The Spaniard will almost certainly miss the Monte-Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open, tournaments he has won 11 and 12 times respectively, and he could also be forced to sit out the Madrid Open at the beginning of May.