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Injured Alcaraz says he’ll be ready for Indian Wells title defense

World number two Carlos Alcaraz says the ankle sprain that forced him out of the ATP Rio Open will sideline him for “a few days” but he’ll be ready for his Indian Wells title defense after an exhibition against Rafael Nadal in Las Vegas.

“I just had an MRI on my ankle after yesterday’s injury,” Alcaraz wrote on Instagram. “After the meeting with my doctor and my physiotherapists the diagnosis is a grade II lateral sprain.

“I have a sprain that will keep me out for a few days! See you in Las Vegas and Indian Wells!”

Alcaraz was injured on the second point of his first-round match against Brazilian wild card Thiago Monteiro, his right foot catching in the red clay surface at the Jockey Club Brasiliero.

After falling hard he limped to his chair, where during a medical timeout a trainer taped up his swollen right ankle. He returned to win the interrupted opening game but after dropping his serve in the second decided to call it quits.

Alcaraz said in his post-match press conference that physiotherapists had indicated the injury was “not serious” and Wednesday’s further tests bore that out.

He still intends to play a made-for-Netflix exhibition on March 3 in Las Vegas against 22-time Grand Slam winner Nadal.

The fixture at the Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay Resort is part of Nadal’s return to the courts after missing almost a year with injury.

Main draw play begins on March 6 at Indian Wells, where all seeded players have a first-round bye.

Alcaraz routed Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-2 to win the title in the California desert last year and return to number one in the world.

He had become the youngest men’s world number one after winning the US Open at 19 in 2022, but his 2022 season was cut short when he suffered an abdominal tear at the Paris Masters in November of that year and he missed the 2023 Australian Open with a hamstring injury suffered while training.

The 20-year-old also pulled out of the Monte Carlo Masters last April with back trouble and arthritis pain in his left hand, but won his second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July.

Alcaraz’s latest injury comes with Italy’s Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner closing in on the world number two ranking.

Alcaraz leads Sinner – who won the Rotterdam title on Sunday – by just 535 points and has 1,000 points to defend at Indian Wells.

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