Defending champion Nadal missed the Australian Open with a major upset | Aici

MELBOURNE – Defending champion Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round to 65th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald in a major upset on Wednesday, his worst Grand Slam result in in seven years.

The 36-year-old Spaniard, who was battling what appeared to be an injury, fell 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 at Rod Laver Arena.

The loss opens the door for arch-rival Novak Djokovic to equal Nadal’s 22 Slam wins. The Serbian returns to Melbourne after missing last year’s tournament when he was kicked out.

Nadal, the top seed, never sat back, falling behind before taking a health break when he was broken in the second set after injuring himself in the head and moaning in pain.

He fought back but was very uncomfortable as his movements were restricted.

His wife Mery was seen crying in the crowd.

“It’s really hard to stay sane, but I just found a way to pull it off,” McDonald said.

“He was incredible, he would never give up no matter what the situation was. I was trying to focus on what I was trying to do and it kind of threw me out of my rhythm, and I just got better.”

The last time Nadal fell in a Grand Slam was at the Australian Open in 2016, when he exited in the first round.

The pair have met once before, in the second round of a Grand Slam. At this point, at the 2020 French Open, Nadal has dropped just four games from a guaranteed win.

This time, McDonald was in control with Nadal immediately on the back foot, breaking in his first service game, and the American went 4-1 up.

Nadal complained to the umpire that he had been thrown out of service before being hit. He won another point at 4-5 to level it, but the American held and took the set.

Nadal left the court with a change, but it didn’t help, as he failed to return the shot, breaking early as McDonald continued to dominate.

The Spaniard was in shaky territory, but as he has done so many times before, he found a way to recover and level the set at 2-2.

But the mistakes started creeping in and he was broken again before he hurt himself 15-30 in the eighth game, which he lost before carefully walking to his seat.

The physio was called and he was heard saying “hip” in Spanish before leaving the court for medical time with his wife Mery in tears in the players’ box.

He came back and played pretending to be a shadow of his former self.

Nadal created history on the same court last year with a five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev in the final.

This saw him claim the record for most singles Grand Slam men’s titles at 21, ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer.

He added 22nd at Roland Garros, while Djokovic won at Wimbledon to move to 21st.

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