Defending Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal embraced a brief campaign at Melbourne Park. Rafa injured his left hip in the second round clash against Mackenzie McDonald and went down 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 to hit the starting gate and lose 1,955 ATP points! Despite an obvious struggle, Nadal refused to give up and gave his best in the third set, earning praise from his opponent.. McDonald outplayed Nadal in two hours and 32 minutes, stayed focused against an injured opponent and brought home the best win of his career.
Things went wrong for Rafa from the start, he never found his rhythm and played well below his best at Rod Laver Arena. On the other hand, McDonald did everything right, dominating the opponent in the closing stages of all three sets to emerge on top and advance to the third round.
McDonald fired 14 aces, dominated his shots very well and built the lead on shorter points to four shots. He created eight break chances and converted five to send the defending champion packing. The American started strong and broke the Spaniard in the first game of the encounter, which is always a good sign.
Pressing hard, Mackenzie secured another break in game five to extend the lead to 4-1 after a quick 19 minutes. Nadal recovered a break in the sixth game and created a break chance at 4-5. He saved it Mackenzie and forced Rafa’s mistake for 6-4 in 46 minutes.
They traded breaks early in the second set and McDonald produced three good holds to keep the pressure on the other side. Nadal wasted a game point at 3-3 and missed a half volley to lose serve and fall behind.
Rafael Nadal suffered a hip injury against Mackenzie McDonald.
The American hit an ace in the eighth game to confirm the lead, and the Spaniard called a medical timeout on his left hip. Rafa came off the court and held on in game nine once he extended the set again. McDonald held at 30 in the tenth game after Nadal’s tiring forehand to close out the set and build a massive lead after one hour and 49 minutes.
Rafa kept going and gave his best in the third set, not wanting to give up before the end. She fired an ace on break point at 4-4 and held for more drama. Mackenzie leveled the score at 5-5 and placed a backhand down the line winner in the next to take a deciding break.
The American fired a service winner at 6-5 to emerge on top and celebrate the best win of his career. «It was very difficult to stay mentally engaged. I found a way to get it out and I’m excited.» Rafa is a great champion who never gives up, regardless of the situation..
Closing the game against opponents from above is always a challenge, and I did it well,» said Mackenzie McDonald.