Australian Open: Defending champ Rafael Nadal loses to Mackenzie McDonald due to injury

January 18, 2023

Rafael Nadal, the top-seeded man, failed to successfully defend his Australian Open title on Wednesday after suffering an injury in the middle of his match. Mackenzie McDonald defeated Nadal 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in the second round.


When turning to his forehand side in the next game on Rod Laver Arena’s ad court, Rafael Nadal pulled up cautiously after the 27-year-old American restored his break edge for 4-3 in set two. Before requesting the trainer, he barely responded to McDonald’s final two serves as the former NCAA champion consolidated.


The 36-year-old departed the game for an outside medical timeout as he appeared to be experiencing hip pain. When he came back, he fought bravely but was weak. Mery, the wife, was seen sobbing in the audience.


During the set break, Nadal gave the situation some thought and decided to continue playing with a go-for-broke attitude. The left-hander opened the scoring with his first two aces of the game. As the third set progressed, he tried to shorten points with serve-and-volley attempts and huge forehand cutters up the line.


In the ninth game, a breakpoint was eliminated by another short ace off Nadal’s racquet, but McDonald eventually broke through and served the match out at game 15. Since being stopped by fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco in the first match at Melbourne Park seven years prior, this is Nadal’s earliest major exit.


By denying Nadal time until the Spaniard became injured, McDonald put up a tremendous performance on his side of the court. He concluded with 14 aces and 42 wins compared to 22 unforced mistakes. The winner of the match between qualifier Dalibor Svrcina and No. 31 seed Yoshihito Nishioka will take on the world No. 65. With a victory, McDonald would match his best prior result from the round of 16 here two years ago.

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