Rafael Nadal returns to practice court after four weeks (PICS)

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Rafael Nadal returns to practice court after four weeks (PICS)

Record 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has started practicing again as on Monday he posted a picture taken during a practice session. Nadal, 35 last played at the Indian Wells Masters, where he suffered a stress fracture in one of his ribs.

"Hi everyone, I wanted to let you know that I'm back in Spain and I went straight to see my medical team for tests after the Indian Wells final, which I played in discomfort,” Nadal tweeted in Spanish the day after the Indian Wells final loss to Taylor Fritz.

"I have a stress fracture in one of my ribs and I will be out for 4 to 6 weeks. It's not good news and I didn't expect this. I am devastated and sad because after such a good start to the season I have had. “Now is a very important time of the year for me and I had a very good feeling and good results.

Well, I have always had that spirit of fighting and overcoming and what I will do is be patient and work hard after my recovery. Once again I would like to thank everyone for their support."

Nadal certainly hoping to play Madrid

Nadal skipped the beginning of the clay season as he pulled out of the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open.

The next tournament of Nadal's schedule is the Madrid Masters, which kicks off on May 1. Nadal hasn't confirmed he will return to action in Madrid but he also hasn't withdrawn from the tournament. Nadal needs matches ahead of the French Open as his preparation for Roland Garros has already been compromised.

After a stunning start to the year, Nadal sustained a setback in the worst possible time - just before the clay season. Nadal failed to win the French Open last year and he is certainly motivated to prevent Novak Djokovic from winning back-to-back Roland Garros titles.