Injured champion Nadal crashes out of Australian Open

Injured champion Nadal crashes out of Australian Open
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Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 18, 2023 Spain’s Rafael Nadal looks dejected after losing his second round match against Mackenzie Mcdonald of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Defending champion Rafa Nadal crashed out of the Australian Open second round on Wednesday after aggravating a hip problem during his 6-4 6-4 7-5 defeat to Mackenzie McDonald, the Spaniard’s latest entry in an injury-blighted history at Melbourne Park.

Nadal’s elimination shakes up the men’s draw and puts a twist in the Grand Slam titles race, with nine-times champion Novak Djokovic able to draw level with the Spaniard’s 22 major championships should he take a 10th crown at Melbourne Park.

Nadal tweaked his left hip while running for a backhand in the second set at Rod Laver Arena, and after inspection from a trainer when trailing 6-4 5-3, he went off-court for a medical time-out.

He returned grim-faced to play out the match but his movement was clearly affected, particularly on his backhand side, paving the way for McDonald to end the Spaniard’s bid for a third title at Melbourne Park.

Nadal said the hip had bothered him for a couple of days but nowhere near to the extent of Wednesday’s match.

“I don’t know what’s going on, if it’s muscle, if it’s (the) joint,” he told reporters.

“I have a history (of) hip issues. I had to do

treatments in the past, address it a little. (It) was not this

amount of problem. Now I feel I cannot move.”

In the 2018 Australian Open, Nadal was forced to retire in the fifth set from his quarter-final against Marin Cilic while trailing 3-6 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2 2-0 because of a hip injury.

Nadal said the hip had bothered him for a couple of days but nowhere near to the extent of Wednesday’s match.

“I don’t know what’s going on, if it’s muscle, if it’s (the) joint,” he told reporters.

“I have a history (of) hip issues. I had to do

treatments in the past, address it a little. (It) was not this

amount of problem. Now I feel I cannot move.”

In the 2018 Australian Open, Nadal was forced to retire in the fifth set from his quarter-final against Marin Cilic while trailing 3-6 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2 2-0 because of a hip injury.

-Reuters

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