Defending champion and No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Australian Open 2023 after a straight units loss to unseeded American Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-4,7-5 at Melbourne Park on Wednesday (January 18). Nadal appeared to have injured himself halfway by means of the second set however determined to play on earlier than bowing out in straight units.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion appeared in apparent ache within the ultimate set of his second spherical match and did not mount a comeback. It was McDonald’s first win over a Prime 5-ranked participant in a Grand Slam.
After the 27-year-old American regained his break benefit for 4-3 within the second set, Nadal appeared to tug up gingerly within the subsequent sport when transferring to his forehand aspect. He barely reacted to McDonald’s final two serves as the previous NCAA champion consolidated his break, earlier than calling for the coach.
Within the second set, Nadal, who was in apparent ache from his left hip, left for an off-court medical timeout. Though he valiantly tried to battle on, Nadal misplaced the second set quickly sufficient to go down 2 units to like to McDonald.
It was not instantly clear what was bothering the 35-year-old Spaniard, however he pulled up awkwardly on the finish of a degree late within the second set towards the Sixty fifth-ranked McDonald. The No. 1-seeded Nadal was visited by a coach on the sideline, then left the courtroom for a medical timeout. Up within the stands, his spouse wiped away tears. Nadal returned to play, however was bodily compromised and never his standard chase-every-ball self.
That is Nadal’s earliest exit at any Grand Slam match since bowing out within the first spherical in Melbourne in 2016 towards No. 45 Fernando Verdasco. That additionally made Verdasco the lowest-ranked participant to defeat Nadal in Australia — till, after all, McDonald on Wednesday.
McDonald is a 27-year-old American who gained NCAA championships in singles and doubles for UCLA in 2016. He has by no means been previous the fourth spherical at a significant match. In his lone earlier matchup towards Nadal, on the 2020 French Open, McDonald gained a complete of simply 4 video games in his lopsided loss.
Nadal gained the Australian Open for the second time a 12 months in the past for his twenty first main championship, then raised his whole to 22 — probably the most for a person — at Roland Garros. He’s at the moment ranked No. 2 however was the highest seed at Melbourne Park as a result of No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz is sitting out the Australian Open with a nasty leg.
(with PTI inputs)