Rafael Nadal knocked out of Australian Open

Rafael Nadal was knocked out in the second round of the Australian Open by American Mackenzie McDonald.

Nadal fell to the American 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, adding to the Spanish great’s early Grand Slam exits since winning his first major at Roland Garros in 2005.

The Spaniard’s elimination adds a twist to the Grand Slam title race, with nine-time champion Novak Djokovic now clear to equal the Spaniard’s 22 major titles if he wins a tenth title at Melbourne Park.

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The defending champion seemed to have suffered a strain in his left hip area while running for backhand deep in the second set at Rod Laver Arena and after receiving attention from a trainer he took an off-court medical time-out when trailing 6-4 5-3.

He returned but was patently affected by the knock, making it easy for McDonald to put an end to Nadal’s bid for a third title at Melbourne Park.

McDonald said: “He’s an incredible champion, he’s never going to give up regardless of the situation so even closing it out against a top guy like that is always tough.

“I was trying to stay so focused on what I was doing and he kind of got me out of that with what he was doing. But I kind of just kept focusing on myself and got through. Last time I played him was at Chatrier, he kicked my butt.

“It’s tough to hit through on clay but I liked my chances on hard, I really wanted to take it to him on hard court. I’m really glad I got my chance and got away with it.”

Nadal has had struggles with injuries since withdrawing from Wimbledon at the semi-final stage last year and came into 2023 low on confidence and looking less than fully fit.


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