Unsurprisingly, Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the upcoming ATP tournaments in Doha and Dubai. A 22-time Major winner experienced a Grade 2 iliopsoas injury in the second round of the Australian Open, straining his left hip and announcing a rupture to heal.
Nadal injured his left leg in the closing stages of the second set against Mackenzie McDonald in a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 loss. After the first checks in Melbourne, Rafa underwent more in Barcelona and confirmed the results. The Spaniard awaits the second round of results, not training on the pitch and hoping to change that in the coming weeks.
Nadal will try to return in Indian Wells in March, although at the moment nothing is certain. A winner of 22 Majors he has played just 13 matches after last year’s Wimbledon, scoring five wins and eight losses! With the latest injury, Nadal is very likely to drop out of the top 10 for the first time since April 2005, defending 1100 points in Acapulco and Indian Wells!
Rafa arrived in Melbourne in absolutely no shape, struggling with one injury for months and experiencing another at Rod Laver Arena against McDonald.
Rafael Nadal will try to prepare for Indian Wells in March.
The American beat the Spaniard in straight sets and caused Rafa’s earliest loss at the Majors since 2016.
Nadal arrived in Melbourne after two United Cup losses, overcoming the first hurdle but struggling hard in the second round. McDonald played well and stayed focused against an injured opponent. The American produced five breaks in eight chances and dropped serve twice to emerge on top.
He got off to a great start and broke the defending champion in the first games one and five 4-1 in less than 20 minutes. Nadal cut the deficit with a break in game six, and McDonald fended off a break point at 5-4 to take the set home.
The second set saw consecutive breaks in the opening stage, with Rafa breaking again at 3-3. 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 for treatment and held on in game nine to extend the set despite an apparent struggle. McDonald brought the set home after Nadal’s forehand error at 5-4 and moved closer to the finish line. Rafa continued and gave his best in the third set despite having trouble running or hitting a backhand.
He fired an ace at break point at 4-4 and held to stay in contention. Mackenzie leveled the score at 5-5 and placed a backhand down the line winner in the next to take a decisive break. The American hit a service winner in game 12 to seal the deal and dethrone the Spaniard.
Nadal will not risk an early comeback, eager to get back to 100% and compete at his best, at least during the clay tour in April, May and June.