Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal was thrown out of the Australian Open in the second round, ending his chances of extending his record 23rd Grand Slam trophy.
She suffered a straight-sets loss to Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Nadal noted: “It’s a difficult moment. It’s a difficult day. I can’t say I’m not mentally destroyed right now, because I would be lying.”
He was stopped awkwardly late for a point late in the second set against 65th-ranked McDonald.
RAFAEL NADAL ON BIZARRE MOMENT DURING AUSTRALIAN OPEN: ‘THE BALL BOY TOOK MY RACKET’
Nadal received a visit from a coach on the touchline and then left the court for a medical timeout. In the stands, his wife wiped away her tears. Nadal played again, but he was physically compromised and not his usual self, and then he said that he couldn’t hit his backhand correctly and he couldn’t run much either.
But Nadal added that as the reigning tournament champion, he did not want to leave the court for a mid-match retirement.
Although he is not sure what the injury might be, the Spaniard said his hip had been a problem for the past few days.
McDonald, an American who won NCAA titles in both singles and doubles while attending UCLA, said of Nadal: “He’s an incredible champion. He will never give up, regardless of the situation, so even beating a great player like that”. it’s always hard. I kept focusing on myself at the end and got through it.”
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McDonald added: “I’m very happy with the way I started that match. I thought I was playing very well, serving very well and returning well as well. So I was really taking it.”
This is Nadal’s earliest exit at any Grand Slam tournament since he lost in the first round in Melbourne in 2016 against world No. 45 Fernando Verdasco. That also made Verdasco the lowest-ranked player to defeat Nadal in Australia, until, of course, McDonald on Wednesday.
McDonald’s has never made it past the fourth round of any major tournament.
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Nadal won the Australian Open last year for the second time during his illustrious career, which made it his 21st major championship, then brought his total to 22, the most for a man, at Roland Garros.
He is currently ranked No. 2, but was the top seed at Melbourne Park because No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz is sitting out the Australian Open with an injured leg.
Associated Press contributed to this report