Australian Open 2023: Defending champion Rafael Nadal crashes out after straight-sets defeat in 2nd round

The 22-time Grand Slam singles champion Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Australian Open after losing to America's Mackenzie McDonald in the second round on Wednesday.
2nd round
2nd roundAustralian Open 2023

In Short

  • Rafael Nadal lost to Mackenzie McDonald 4-6, 4-6, 5-7

  • Nadal suffered a fourth consecutive defeat against an American

  • Nadal appeared to be struggling with an injury during the match

Defending champion Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Australian Open 2023 after losing his second-round match on Wednesday (January 18).

Nadal, who was aiming to clinch his 23rd Grand Slam singles title, lost to the 63rd-ranked Mackenzie McDonald of America in straight sets 4-6, 4-6, 5-7 at the Rod Laver Arena. The match, which lasted two hours and 32 minutes, was played under the roof due to persistent rain in Australia.

The defeat marks the Spaniard Nadal's fourth loss to an American, having previously lost to Frances Tiafoe (US Open 2022 Round of 16), Tommy Paul (Paris Masters 2022 Round of 32) and Taylor Fritz (ATP World Tour Finals group stage).

Nadal did not look at his best and it seemed he was suffering with a problem which could be related to his hip. He pulled up with an injury close to the second set and took a medical timeout. In the second set at 4-3, Nadal moved to his left while chasing a forehand on the first point of the game but he pulled up in pain. Nadal then left the court with a physio, at 5-3.

The early exit at the Australian Open marks Nada's first at a major since he lost the first-round match during the 2016 Australian Open in five sets against compatriot Fernando Verdasco.

It was the second match-up between Nadal and Mackenzie at the Grand Slams. Nadal secured a 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 victory over Mackenzie during the 2020 French Open. Mackenzie had come prepared to avenge the 2020 loss by breaking Nadal's serve immediately into the match. The American went on to break Nadal's serve five times before clinching the final break at 5-5 in the third set.

Mackenzie took advantage of a struggling Nadal, whose movement was already hampered, and secured a spot in the third round, where he will meet either Yoshihito Nishioka or Dalibor Svrcina.

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