Nadal crashes out of Australian Open


The defending champion suffered a shock defeat to unseeded American Mackenzie McDonald

Top seed Rafael Nadal has exited the Australian Open after a stunning second-round defeat to American outsider Mackenzie McDonald in straight sets on Wednesday. Nadal required medical treatment during the match as he contended with a hip injury, but his rival took full advantage to claim one of the biggest wins of his career.

McDonald won the contest 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in just over two hours and 30 minutes, ending Nadal’s hopes of retaining the title he won last season by beating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Already in trouble after dropping the first set, Nadal pulled up while trailing in the second set and was forced to take a medical timeout for treatment on his hip. The Spaniard, 36, opted to play on but was unable to turn the tide as the 27-year-old McDonald booked his place in the third round.

Nadal and McDonald shook hands at the net after the Spaniard exited the tournament.

©  Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Nadal’s wife was seen watching on tearfully from the stands at Rod Laver Arena as her husband was again impeded by injury woes. Nadal’s departure removes one of the main contenders for the title in Melbourne, where record nine-time winner Novak Djokovic is back this year following his deportation drama in 2022.

Two-time Australian Open finalist Medvedev had been placed in the same quarter of the draw as Nadal and could have faced him in the last eight, although that match-up definitely won’t happen.

Nadal’s departure means it is the first time the men’s top seed at the Australian Open has exited in the second round since Gustavo Kuerten in 2001. Some may wonder if it is the last time fans see the 22-time Grand Slam winner in action in Melbourne, such are the consistent injury problems which Nadal has faced in recent years.

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