Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open title defence is over after a second-round defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald in which he struggled with an injury.
The Spaniard, 36, was trailing by a set and a break when he pulled up with what appeared to be a hip problem.
He took a medical timeout towards the end of the second set and continued with the match, but ultimately slipped to a 6-4 6-3 7-5 defeat.
It is Nadal’s earliest exit at the Australian Open since 2016.
It was a cruel end for Nadal after his stunning 2022, where he came back from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in last year’s final in Melbourne and won a record-extending 14th French Open crown in June.
However, a typically battling display in the Wimbledon quarter-finals led to him picking up an abdominal injury that hampered him for the rest of the season.
He arrived in Melbourne having lost his only two singles matches of the season and never looked fully comfortable before he seemed to jar his hip against McDonald.
Nadal’s wife was left in tears and his support team also looked emotional in the player box as the two-time champion struggled to move on Rod Laver Arena.
After seeing the match through to the end he left to a standing ovation from the crowd, with top seed Nadal turning to wave to each corner before exiting the stadium.
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