- Rafael Nadal had to see a doctor during his second-round match.
- At one point the Spaniard was seen grabbing him by the waist.
- However, he ended the match by saying, “I didn’t want to retire and leave the court.”
The graceful Rafael Nadal refused to blame all injuries on America’s shock defeat to Mackenzie Macdonald when the legendary Spaniard’s Australian Open title defense came to an abrupt end.
Nadal grabbed his left hip during the eighth game of the second set of the second round and quickly left the court to receive treatment.
The 36-year-old returned to play at Rod Laver Arena but was clearly in pain and running as world number 65 McDonald’s won the biggest win of his career 6-4 6-4 7-5. I was having a hard time.
Even before the injury, Nadal was rattled by McDonald, who broke serve in the first game of the match and confidently outscored the defending champion.
“I don’t really like the word ‘if’ because it doesn’t make a lot of sense in sport and in life,” Nadal said.
“In the end I dropped out of the tournament and he made it to the third round, so well done.
“He was playing tennis at a great level. My life goes on.”
World No. 65 Mackenzie McDonald praised Nadal’s resilience and admitted he was thrown out of his “rhythm” by a gritty left-hander whose play had changed due to injury. sauce: AAP, SIPA USA / USA TODAY network
Nadal’s box, which includes his wife Maria, who wiped away tears, was left shattered by injuries at a time when the 22-time Grand Slam winner appeared to be nearing the end of an illustrious career.
After the loss, Nadal slowly left the court to take time to thank the crowd in what could be his final appearance at Melbourne Park.
Despite winning two majors last year, Nadal entered the tournament unwell and has lost seven of his last nine singles matches.
The hip problem is the sixth time in his epic career that injury or illness has made his campaign at Melbourne Park brutal.
He retired in the 2010 quarter-final against Andy Murray with a knee injury, and a hamstring strain severely hampered him the following year, losing to compatriot David Ferrer in the best eight.
Nadal withdrew from the British Open in 2013 with viral gastroenteritis and injured his back during a warm-up before losing to Stan Wawrinka in the 2014 final.
In 2018, the great Spaniard withdrew from the quarterfinals against Marin Cilic with a hip problem.
Rafael Nadal at the post-match press conference. sauce: AAP, SIPA USA / cal sports media
Despite his recent setbacks, Nadal was adamant about ending the fight rather than calling it off.
“I always think about quitting, but I didn’t ask my physiotherapist the last time.
“I am old enough to make my own decisions.
“I didn’t want to retire to be the defending champion here.
“I didn’t want to leave the court to retire. It should have been like this in the end. I lost.”
“Please do your best until the end.”
Nadal beat Russia’s Daniil Medvedev from two sets down in a classic decider last year to win his second Australian Open title, 13 years after his first.
The early exit of the world’s No. 2 men’s ranking is another blow for the Australian Open organizers, a draw already ravaged by mass withdrawals and retirements.
, her sister Venus, world number one Carlos Alcaraz and legendary Roger Federer are missing.
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley was caught looking grim during Nadal’s medical timeout.
McDonald praised Nadal’s resilience and admitted he was thrown out of “rhythm” by the gritty left-hander whose play had changed due to injury.
“He’s an incredible champion,” said the 27-year-old.
“He never gives up under any circumstances.”
https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/rafael-nadals-australian-open-title-defence-comes-to-an-end-after-injury-strikes/x9l9r64vz Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open title defense ends due to injury