Rafael Nadal, the reigning Australian Open champion, has been eliminated from the competition after being shocked by Mackenzie McDonald in the second round. Due to an injury, the Spaniard who stunned Daniil Medvedev in the 2022 championship match over five sets with a victory over him abandoned the match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. With the victory, Novak Djokovic is now the only prominent participant who has previously won the illustrious tournament.
The 35-year-old Spaniard pulled up awkwardly towards the end of a point late in the second set against the 65th-ranked McDonald, although it was unclear what was troubling him.
The No. 1 seeded Nadal was approached on the sidelines by a trainer before leaving the court for a medical break. His wife wiped her eyes up in the stands. Nadal was physically weakened and not his typical ball-chaser self when he returned to the court.
Since losing to No. 45 Fernando Verdasco in the opening round of a Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne in 2016, this is Nadal’s quickest exit. Additionally, until McDonald on Wednesday, Verdasco was the lowest-ranked player to upset Nadal in Australia.
American McDonald, 27, won both the singles and doubles NCAA titles for UCLA in 2016. At a significant tournament, he has never advanced past the fourth round. McDonald lost to Nadal in a lopsided fashion in their lone prior meeting in the 2020 French Open, winning just four games overall.
Last year, Nadal won the Australian Open twice to win his 22nd major title, making him the most successful man in history. He then increased that total to 23 at Roland Garros. Although he is now rated No. 2, Carlos Alcaraz, who is ranked No. 1, is missing the Australian Open due to an injured leg, therefore he was the top seed at Melbourne Park. Nadal has recently struggled with a number of health difficulties.
On his route to won the French Open in June of last year, he required injections to relieve his left foot’s agony. He withdrew from Wimbledon in July due to a strained abdominal muscle and contended with rib cartilage issues in 2022.
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