MELBOURNE, Australia — A clearly hurting Rafael Nadal misplaced his second-round match on the Australian Open to Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 on Wednesday, abruptly ending his title protection and bid for a record-extending twenty third Grand Slam trophy.
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 in opposition to the Sixty fifth-ranked McDonald.
The No. 1-seeded Nadal was visited by a coach on the sideline, then left the court docket 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 in opposition to No. 45 Fernando Verdasco. That additionally made Verdasco the lowest-ranked participant to defeat Nadal in Australia — till, in fact, McDonald on Wednesday.
Rafael Nadal will get medical therapy throughout his 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald within the second spherical of the Australian Open.AFP by way of Getty Photos
Rafael Nadal waves to the Australian Open crowd after his second-round upset loss.AP
McDonald is a 27-year-old American who received NCAA championships in singles and doubles for UCLA in 2016. He has by no means been previous the fourth spherical at a serious match. In his lone earlier matchup in opposition to Nadal, on the 2020 French Open, McDonald received a complete of simply 4 video games in his lopsided loss.
Nadal received 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 — essentially the most for a person — at Roland Garros.
He’s at present 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 foul leg.
Nadal has handled a collection of well being points just lately.
He wanted pain-killing injections for his left foot on the way in which to profitable the French Open final June, pulled out of Wimbledon final July earlier than the semifinals due to a torn belly muscle and in addition handled an issue with rib cartilage in 2022.