Defending Champion Rafael Nadal was knocked out of the Australian Open 2023 after he faced a defeat in the second round to World Number 65 Mackenzie McDonald. The Spaniard faced a defeat in straight sets 4-6, 4-6, 5-7. It is pertinent to note that Nadal was the top-seeded player for the first Grand Slam of the year.
The Spainiard was seen receiving some medical attention during the break which suggests that the 36-year-old might have even suffered what seemed to be a hip injury during the course of this defeat. A second-round exit implies this is Nadal’s worst Grand Slam result in seven years.
Nadal is never going to give up, regardless of the situation: McDonald
“I’m really happy with how I started that match,” McDonald said as quoted by ATP Tour in an official release. “I thought I was playing really well, serving great, returning well too. I was really taking it to him.”
“It was actually pretty tough to stay mentally engaged a little bit there, but I found a way to just pull it out, so I’m happy,” McDonald said.
“He’s (Nadal) an incredible champion. He’s never going to give up, regardless of the situation. Closing it out against a top guy like that is always tough,” he added.
“I was trying to stay so focussed on what I was doing, and he kind of got me out of the rhythm with that. I’m happy I just kept focussing on myself in the end and got through, I got it done.”
After seeing her husband struggle in the middle with injury issue, Nadal’s wife Maria Francisca Perello was also in tears.
Nadal had not been at his best in the first round either and went past only after a scrappy four-set win over Jack Draper. There were several unforced errors from the 22-time Grand Slam champion even as Draper suffered cramps. While Nadal was hopeful of a better performance, it was an even underwhelming out for him.
McDonald was clinical with his serves and on closing in on the match, pouncing on every oppirtunity that came his way. While Nadal did have the last laugh when the two came face to face previously at the French Open 2020, this time around the American was clearly the better player.