After a major upset by Mackenzie McDonald, an injured Rafael Nadal walked out of the Australian Open, losing his chance at a title defense.
The defending Australian Open champion, Rafael Nadal, bid his goal of winning back-to-back titles goodbye after facing a second-round defeat to American player Mackenzie McDonald.
This is Nadal’s earliest exit in seven years. His last early loss was in the Australian Open in 2016, where he bowed out in the first round.
Nadal came into the tournament looking rather shaky. This came after having lost his only two singles matches of the season prior to the Australian Open.
This, coupled with what many are assuming is a hip injury, caused the Spaniard to struggle in his second-round match.
Mackenzie McDonald swept the top seed in three straight sets.
In the second set, Nadal took a medical time-out after visibly hurting himself. He was in clear discomfort and his movements looked to be affected by his injury.
“He’s an incredible champion, he’s never going to give up regardless of the situation,” McDonald said after his victory. “I was trying to stay focused on what I was trying to do and he kind of got me out of my rhythm, and I just got through it.”
Now, with the top player of the tournament out of contention, this leaves the door for the championship wide open. One player will definitely be prowling at the entrance: Novak Djokovic.
In his comeback to the Australian Open, the tournament he has dominated throughout his career, Djokovic will certainly be using this opportunity to tie Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 Grand Slam wins.
Banner image from Australian Open on Twitter.