Defending champion Rafael Nadal is LOCKED OUT by American Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open

Defending champion Rafael Nadal is LOCKED OUT by American Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open

Defending champion Rafael Nadal is KNOCKED out of the Australian Open in the second round as the seed no. 1 is upset by 65th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald in a straight set after struggling with an injury

  • Defending champion Rafael Nadal is eliminated from the Australian Open
  • He was beaten in straight sets by American Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday
  • Nadal was defeated after struggling with an injury during the clash
  • Towards the end of the second set he appeared to have a suspected hip problem

Rafael Nadal made a lasting farewell to Rod Laver Arena after his last Australian Open ended in a straight-set defeat through injury.

The watching wife of the defending champion, Xisca, broke down in tears after he appeared to bruise the left hip area late in the second set of his second-round match against American Mackenzie McDonald.

He went on court for a treatment break but pressed on only to lose to the former college star from California 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

The American Mackenzie McDonald has defeated defending champion Rafa Nadal at the Australian Open

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

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

Even before the incident, he was defending himself against the contrastingly mobile 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.

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 struggled with a punch the whole time and appeared to injure his left hip in the second set

Nadal struggled with a punch the whole time and appeared to injure his left hip in the second set

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.

Now 36 and a dad, there will inevitably be speculation about how much more his body wants to endure and he hasn’t been the same since he left the Wimbledon semi-finals last summer.

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.

1674027012 734 Defending champion Rafael Nadal is LOCKED OUT by American Mackenzie

The defeat will inevitably lead to speculation about how much more Nadal’s body is willing to endure

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.

Following his 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.”