2023 Australia Open: Defending Champion Nadal Knocked Out
World number one and defending champion Rafael Nadal has been knocked out in the second round the f the men’s singles at this year’s Australian Open.
Down a set and a break against American Mackenzie McDonald, Nadal pulled up lame after stretching on a wide ball.
The Spanish legend immediately took a medical timeout after McDonald held for 5-3, with Nadal’s players box visibly emotional as the 21-time grand slam champion spent time off the court.
Nadal returned to the court and picked up his racquet to the applause of the Rod Laver Arena crowd, looking ready to try and play on.
His serve speed was noticeably down but the Spaniard held for 3-5, forcing McDonald to serve out the set.
McDonald did so, with Nadal then making his way to sit down and looked set to continue playing.
Still, the 21-time grand slam champion could barely change direction during rallies.
Nadal’s injury appeared to affect the mentality of McDonald, whose serve and groundstroke speed declined significantly.
It allowed Nadal to continue holding his serve despite looking well and truly laboured.
Despite his best efforts, Nadal found himself facing break points serving at 5-all, managing to save just one before McKenzie broke for 6-5.
He served out the set and with it the match, sealing the biggest win of his life.
And in other men’s second round tie, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated Serbia’s Alex Molcan and United States’ Francis Tiafoe beat Shang Juncheng of China.
In the women’s singles second round games, Iga Swiatek of Poland overcame Colombia’s Camilla Osorio and Madison Keys of the USA got the better of Wang Xinyu of China.
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