Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, withdrew from the Australian Open on Wednesday’s second round due to an injury he sustained during his 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 loss to American Mackenzie McDonald.
His departure upends the men’s draw and throws a wrench in the chase for Grand Slam titles, as nine-time winner Novak Djokovic could catch the Spaniard in major titles with a 10th victory at Melbourne Park.
At Rod Laver Arena, Nadal appeared to hurt his left hip when racing for a backhand late in the second set. After receiving treatment from a trainer, he took an off-court medical timeout with the score at 6-4, 5-3.
He returned with a dejected expression to finish the match, but it was obvious that his movement had been compromised, especially on his backhand side, allowing McDonald to foil the Spaniard’s attempt to win a third championship at Melbourne Park.
Prior to getting hurt, McDonald played brilliantly to win the opening set, going toe-to-toe with the 36-year-old Spaniard and dominating the most of the fierce baseline battles.
I’m thrilled to be able to play on a court with a roof, and I’m hoping it won’t rain any time soon.