Melbourne (EFE).- The Spanish Rafael Nadal (1) fell 6-4, 6-4 and 7-5 in the second round of the Australian Open against the American Mackenzie McDonald after suffering an injury in the upper part of the left leg after trying to reach a defensive backhand late in the second set.
The man from Manacor will therefore not be able to defend the epic crown he achieved in 2022 when he came back from two sets down against the Russian Daniil Medvedev.
The greyish color of the sky in Melbourne predicted the future of a fateful afternoon for a Nadal who, first of all, was not able to find his best version to face the incontestable proposal of the young McDonald and, secondly, ended up without options due to injury. in the left leg when the crash was very downhill.
The rain forced the organization of the tournament to close the retractable roof of the Rod Laver court and the thickness of the balls, highly criticized by various tennis players in the first two days of competition, helped the style of a McDonald that was excellent.
Nadal: “I can’t say I’m not mentally destroyed”
After the match, Nadal declared that he could not deny that he was “mentally destroyed” after suffering a new injury, now to the hip. «I did not want to retire, although I came to consider it. What I was trying to do was play without aggravating the injury. He couldn’t hit the backhand or run. I tried to finish the game by all means, “he explained at a press conference.
“It is frustrating and difficult to accept,” said Nadal, who was defending the title won in 2022 and will drop from number 2 to 6 in the world rankings.
“Sometimes you get tired of so many injuries. It is a difficult moment and it is time to accept it. I hope it’s nothing serious or that it takes me off the track for a long time, because it would be difficult to go through the work and time necessary for recovery again. I can’t say that I’m not mentally destroyed. I have already gone through that many times and it is not easy, “he stressed, his head down.
Nadal tried to finish the match despite the injury
It took the 22-major champion to find his starting rhythm against a McDonald that punished from start to finish with his flat repertoire, much more favored with indoor court conditions and slow balls.
The man from Manacor complained to the chair umpire in the early stages of the clash about some of the difficulties when it came to seeing the ball in good condition as a result of some luminous object located in one of the backs of the center.
He reacted but not in time to correct a mistake in the form of a double-break’ that would mean the initial 6-4. Nadal had a meager 61% of first services in play in the opening set, which contrasted with McDonald’s 82%.
The same script was present at the start of the second after the American started the second set with an early break that put the 36-year-old veteran on his toes.
He gained in dynamism and recovered the break from a disadvantage, after maintaining an agonizing service in which he offered a ‘break’ ball after a favorable 40-0, but McDonald again upset the manacorí’s plans with a new break that established the 5 -3 in your favor.
Things couldn’t get worse when an unfortunate action undid any chance of a comeback for the defending champion.
The Spaniard tried to reach a ball on the side of his backhand and the stretching he did with his legs to continue with options at the point cost him his participation in the Australian Open.
Nadal requested medical treatment and retired to the locker room, in the same way as his opponent, for ten minutes.
He kept his serve despite the limited movement he enjoyed and McDonald closed the second set on serve to put land in the way with a double 6-4.
The first seeded Rod Laver surprised Rod Laver with his decision to continue fighting and she responded with a loud ovation but her few possibilities of movement augured an end with American colour.
It was the first time in the match in which Nadal, a tennis player to play behind the bottom line, stepped forward to take more risks than normal and offered several beautifully made points that served to say goodbye to his faithful and stalwart Rod Laver Arena.
On the contrary, McDonald, who had been unblemished so far, lowered his level as a result of nerves and such an atypical situation with his opponent at half throttle but it was enough to score the third set 7-5.
The Spaniard already had to retire on the same stage during the course of the fifth set in the 2018 quarterfinals against Croatian Marin Cilic due to problems in his right thigh.
Therefore, he will not be able to increase the difference in ‘major’ titles with his great rival, the Serbian Novak Djokovic (4), who will have the possibility of equalizing with 22 crowns.
The rival for the Californian in the next round will be known after the conclusion of the clash between the Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka (31) and the Czech from the previous Dalibor Svrcina.
Even so, he returned in pain to complete a game that he lost after two hours and 26 minutes.
Other results from the second round of the Australian Open
The Spanish Nuria Párrizas surprised the Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia (14) by beating her 7-6 (11) and 6-2 in a first round of the Australian Open that was scheduled for this Tuesday and was postponed due to rain.
The Russian Daniil Medvedev (7) left no trace of the local John Millman, whom he defeated 7-5, 6-2 and 6-2.
A walk: this was the second round match of the Australian Open for the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who defeated the Australian Rinky Hikata 6-3, 6-0 and 6-2 in an hour and a half of play.
Roberto Bautista (24) from Castellón met his first test with a firm step against the Portuguese Joao Sousa, whom he won by a clear 6-3, 6-2 and 6-2 despite the fact that his first round match at the Australian Open It will be interrupted by the rain this Tuesday and will resume on the afternoon of this Wednesday.
The Polish Iga Swiatek (1) improved her tennis compared to the first match to overcome the Colombian Camila Osorio in the Rod Laver Arena by a clear 6-2 and 6-3, which helped her to advance to the third round.
The Spanish Cristina Bucsa qualified for the round of 16, her best result in a Grand Slam, by defeating the Canadian Bianca Andreescu, champion of the United States Open 2019, 2-6, 7-6 (7) and 6-4.
The American Maxime Cressy, 43 of the ATP, left out of the Australian Open the Spanish Albert Ramos (37), who could not complete the comeback in the first round and fell in four sets, 7-6 (2), 7-5, 3-6 and 6-3.
Italian Jannik Sinner (15), American Frances Tiafoe (16) and Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime also qualified for the third round of the Australian Open.
The American Jessica Pegula (3) offered a great level again to beat the Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the Australian Open.