Mackenzie McDonald of the United States beat the Spaniards. 4-6, 4-6, 5-7 in another agonizing struggle. Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open championship defense came to a halt in the second round on Wednesday, as he was upset 4-6, 4-6, 5-7 by World No. 65 Mackenzie McDonald. Throughout the first set, the Spaniard battled with depth and power on his groundstrokes, making just 65% of his first serves.
Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open championship
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Rafael Nadal pulled up at the baseline midway through the second set, behind McDonald by a break, gripping his body with a grimace on his face. Rafael Nadal had a matching stop at 4-6, 3-5 down to undergo treatment for what seemed to be a hip injury, and after the lengthy pause, he never looked competitive again. Throughout the third performance, his body language was unhappy as the camera switched to his worried-looking squad. Even if Rafael Nadal overcomes the present obstacle, his physical condition and form are insufficient for him to win in Melbourne again.
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After holding service until 5-4 in the third, Nadal started flattening the ball in optimistic groundstrokes and serves, unable to run around or compete in the lengthier exchanges until succumbing at 5-7. Coming into the competition, Nadal was far from a favorite. He was in perhaps the worst shape of his life, having lost seven of his past nine competitive matches, and there were serious doubts about his health after an abdominal ailment had sidelined him for the whole of the second half of the season.
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The Spaniard will now be ranked sixth in the world, with 1,350 points to defend in the coming months. With all the speculation regarding his retirement ahead of his championship defense, that speculation will only intensify, with commenters on the event’s live stream congratulating Rafael Nadal “in case he does not play this tournament again.” McDonald’s greatest victory of his career came as a result of an outstanding effort that took advantage of Nadal’s weak form. In the third round, he will face one of Dalibor Svrcina or Yoshito Nishioka.