Australian Open 2023: Defending champion Rafael Nadal from Melbourne Park Grand Slam

Australian Open 2023: Defending champion Rafael Nadal from Melbourne Park Grand Slam

A little-known American has knocked defending champion Rafael Nadal out of the Australian Open in one of the biggest upsets in Grand Slam history, sparking emotional scenes in the world number two player’s box.

California’s Mackenzie McDonald, ranked at No. 65 in the world, outstripped the 22-time Grand Slam winner to claim a surprise straight set win 6-4 6-4 7-5 to advance to the third round to move into Melbourne Park.

A visibly distraught Nadal appeared to injure his left hip late in the second set and left the court for treatment before returning to lose in straight sets.

The shock loss sparked emotional scenes in his player’s box with Nadal’s wife Xisca, who burst into tears as he struggled to move on the pitch.

Footage from a spectator in the crowd behind the players’ box showed a member of Team Nadal comforting Xisca by putting an arm around her.

The loss has sparked speculation that it could be the last we’ll see Nadal in action at Melbourne Park.

Rafael Nadal’s wife Xisca breaks down in tears as her injured husband goes into straight sets in great excitement at the Australia Open (pictured Nadal’s wife Xisca crying at the Australian Open on Wednesday night)

A clearly distraught Rafael Nadal (pictured) looks dejected after his shock loss stunned the tennis world on Wednesday

A clearly distraught Rafael Nadal (pictured) looks dejected after his shock loss stunned the tennis world on Wednesday

Nadal, now 36 and a new dad, hasn’t been the same since his shock 11-hour withdrawal in last year’s Wimbledon semi-final against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios.

The shock loss has stunned the tennis world and sent fans into meltdown.

“Wow Nadal left early showing his age,” one fan tweeted.

Fans are divided on whether Nadal’s time at the top is over.

Fans are divided on whether Nadal's time at the top is over:

Fans are divided on whether Nadal’s time at the top is up: “Wow, Nadal left early and showing his age,” said one commenter (pictured)

1674043492 69 Australian Open 2023 Defending champion Rafael Nadal from Melbourne Park

“That’s quite unusual,” said one commenter after Wednesday night’s big commotion (pictured). “Hopefully he has another comeback in him.”

'Belly, knee, foot, etc. what else. He should just pull away if everything hurts.  It's a huge disrespect to opponents when you complain about an injury every time you lose,

‘Belly, knee, foot, etc. what else. He should just pull away if everything hurts. It’s a huge disrespect to opponents when you complain about an injury every time you lose,” wrote one fan (pictured).

But another sided with the renowned champion, calling Nadal

But another sided with the renowned champion, calling Nadal “the epitome of grace and humility” (pictured).

‘Belly, knee, foot, etc. what else. He should just pull away if everything hurts. It’s a huge disrespect to opponents when you complain about injuries every time you lose,” one fan wrote.

Even before the second injury-related set, Nadal was fighting against the contrastingly agile McDonald, but was then clearly restricted in his movement and it seemed as if only a collapse of his opponent would save him.

Nadal was struggling to stay in second place at 3-5 when, on a relatively harmless move at the baseline, he suddenly pulled up and clutched his lower left. There was no immediate public diagnosis, but the problem area appeared to be around his lower left abdomen and hip.

Xisca Perello (pictured) cried as her husband Rafael Nadal fought in the second round singles match at the Australian Open on Wednesday

Xisca Perello (pictured) cried as her husband Rafael Nadal fought in the second round singles match at the Australian Open on Wednesday

Ms Perello was comforted in the players' box (pictured) on Wednesday night after she burst into tears as her husband said goodbye to the Australian Open

Ms Perello was comforted in the players’ box (pictured) on Wednesday night after she burst into tears as her husband said goodbye to the Australian Open

American Mackenzie McDonald defeated defending champion Rafael Nadal (pictured Wednesday night) at the Australian Open

American Mackenzie McDonald defeated defending champion Rafael Nadal (pictured Wednesday night) at the Australian Open

After deciding to go ahead, there were discussions between the player and his box, with anxious looks all around. He managed to remain competitive with limited mobility and careless hitting the ball, but McDonald broke him 5-5 in the third and there was little resistance in the final game.

Nadal is now worst in seven of his last nine games before the US Open, a losing ratio not equaled since the start of his career.

Nadal grabbed his left hip during the eighth game of the second set of his clash with McDonald after apparently suffering the injury when he put his foot down while sprinting to take a shot and immediately walked off the field for medical attention.

Californian Mackenzie McDonald (pictured Wednesday night), ranked at No. 65 in the world, outstripped the 22-time Grand Slam winner to claim a shock straight-set win

Californian Mackenzie McDonald (pictured Wednesday night), ranked at No. 65 in the world, outstripped the 22-time Grand Slam winner to claim a shock straight-set win

The 36-year-old was back playing at Rod Laver Arena but was clearly in pain and struggling to run as McDonald finished the biggest win of his career 6-4 6-4 7-5.

Nadal’s box, including his wife Maria wiping away tears, was shattered by the injury as the 22-time Major winner seemingly neared the end of his glittering career.

Even before the injury, Nadal was upset by McDonald, who broke serve in the opening game of the match.

Nadal became frustrated and argued with the chair umpire several times.

Nadal has been struggling with injuries throughout and appeared to injure his left hip in the second set (pictured, a paramedic attends to the tennis star during the men's singles match on day three of the Australian Open in Melbourne).

Nadal has been struggling with injuries throughout and appeared to injure his left hip in the second set (pictured, a paramedic attends to the tennis star during the men’s singles match on day three of the Australian Open in Melbourne).

The apparent hip problem marks the sixth time in his glorious career that either injury or illness has rendered his Australian Open campaign cruel.

He was knocked out in the quarter-finals by Andy Murray in 2010 with a knee injury and was severely disabled the following year by a thigh strain in a knockout round loss to compatriot David Ferrer.

Nadal retired from the Open in 2013 with a stomach virus and suffered a back injury in warm-up before losing the 2014 final to Stan Wawrinka.

In 2018, the tall Spaniard ended his quarterfinal match against Marin Cilic with a hip problem.

Nadal finally won a second Australian Open title last year, 13 years after his first, by defeating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in a classic decider, two sets down.

The result nonetheless came as a major shock to the Australian Open champion on Wednesday (pictured Nadal after losing his second-round match to Mackenzie McDonald of the USA).

The result nonetheless came as a major shock to the Australian Open champion on Wednesday (pictured Nadal after losing his second-round match to Mackenzie McDonald of the USA).

World No. 2’s early exit comes as another blow to Australian Open organizers as the draw has already been marred by major withdrawals and retirements.

Defending women’s champion Ash Barty, seven-time champion Serena Williams, her sister Venus, doubles winner Naomi Osaka, world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and the legendary Roger Federer are all missing.

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley was captured with a grim expression during Nadal’s medical time off.

After his great excitement, McDonald showed great respect for Nadal and applauded his willingness to keep fighting despite his injury.

He said: “He’s an incredible champion. He’ll never give up, so it’s tough to stand up to a guy like that.

“I’m glad I kept focusing on myself and got through it.”

World No. 65 McDonald (pictured) caused quite a stir at Rod Laver Arena, winning in straight sets

World No. 65 McDonald (pictured) caused quite a stir at Rod Laver Arena, winning in straight sets