Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Australian Open 2023: Rafael Nadal, top seed, falls to Mackenzie McDonald in second round

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Rafael Nadal will have to wait longer to potentially win his 23rd Grand Slam. The top seed took an early exit from the 2023 Australian Open on Wednesday as he was eliminated in the second round by 65th-ranked Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

Nadal battled through a left hip injury during the match.

“It’s a tough moment. It’s a tough day,” Nadal said following the loss, the Associated Press reported. “I can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this moment, because I would be lying.”

Late in the second set, Nadal came up awkwardly after the end of a point against McDonald. A trainer came over to check on Nadal, who even left the court for a medical timeout. The 36-year-old star eventually returned to the court to resume the match, but was clearly not right physically.

Wednesday’s second round loss is the earliest that Nadal has been eliminated in a Grand Slam tournament since the 2016 Australian Open when he lost to Fernando Verdasco. This comes after Nadal won the Australian Open for the second time in 2022.

After the match, Nadal alluded to the fact that he couldn’t properly hit his backhand and his cardio wasn’t near the form he’s accustomed to after sustaining the hip injury. Nadal admitted that his hip had been hampering him for a few days, but it got a lot worse on Wednesday. 

Injuries have been an issue for Nadal as of late. He had to have pain-killing injections in his left foot on his way to winning the 2022 French Open. In July, he had to pull out of Wimbledon prior to the semifinals due to a torn abdominal muscle. The 22-time Grand Slam champion also had a rib cartilage injury throughout the 2022 season.

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