Tennis: McDonald Knocks Nadal Out Of Australian Open
Australian Open defending champion Rafael Nadal has been knocked out of the competition in the second round after suffering an injury during his 6-4 6-4 7-5 defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald.
Before the injury McDonald had played superbly to take the first set, going toe-to-toe with the 36-year-old Spaniard and winning most of the ferocious baseline exchanges.
Nadal appeared to suffer a strain in his left hip area while running for a backhand deep in the second set at the Rod Laver Arena and after receiving attention from a trainer, he took an off-court medical time-out when trailing 6-4 5-3.
The Spaniard returned to play out the match but his movement was clearly affected, particularly on his backhand side, paving the way for McDonald to take the second set.
Leaning heavily on serve and relying on touch, Nadal dragged McDonald deep into the third set but was finally broken to 6-5 when the American bolted forward to flick a passing shot past him.
Nadal attacked the net in a desperate last stand but to no avail as McDonald ended the Spaniard’s bid for a third title at Melbourne Park.
Mission accomplished for @mackiemacster 🇺🇸
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2023
“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,” said McDonald.
“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’s elimination shakes up the men’s draw and puts a twist in the Grand Slam title race, with nine-time champion Novak Djokovic able to draw level with the Spaniard’s 22 major championships should he take a 10th crown at Melbourne Park.
Reuters/Australian Open/Chidi Nwoke.