‘I have history with hip issues, but it’s never been this bad’: Injury-hit Rafael Nadal vows to play on despite hobbling off court in agony after second round defeat by Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open
- Rafael Nadal said he was ‘destroyed mentally’ after losing in the second round
- The Spaniard was beaten by Mackenzie McDonald 6-4 6-4 7-5 in straight sets
- He was visibly struggling with a hip injury but refused to retire from the match
- The top seed was already a set down when he initially crouched down in pain
- READ: Nadal’s wife breaks down in tears as she watches the Spaniard crash out
The lingering wave goodbye and the tears of his wife in the stand were a reminder that Rafael Nadal will not go on for ever.
The defending champion described himself as ‘destroyed mentally’ after injury hastened his demise in the Australian Open second round.
However, he was not seeing his 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 dismissal by American Mackenzie McDonald as more than just another obstacle to overcome as his body moves, ever less co-operatively, into its late 30s.
Rafael Nadal admitted to feeling ‘destroyed mentally’ after his title defence ended prematurely due to injury
Up in the stands of the Rod Laver Arena his spouse, Xisca, could not hide her emotions after he appeared to jar himself around the left hip area late in the second set.
He went off for the court for a treatment break, but carried on with only partial mobility before being finished off.
Later he tried to be philosophical about this latest issue in an increasing plague of physical setbacks.
The reigning champion admitted he was struggling with the issue prior to the match
‘I can’t complain about my life at all. So just in terms of sports and in terms of injuries and tough moments, it’s another one,’ said Nadal. ‘I can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying.
‘It’s been a couple of days like this, but nothing like today in that movement.
‘We’re going to start talking about that now, but I don’t know what’s going on, if it’s muscle, if it’s joint. Let’s see, hopefully it is nothing too bad.
‘I have history with issues in the hip. I had to do treatments in the past but it was not this amount of problem. Now I feel I cannot move.’
He insisted he had no desire to give up, adding: ‘It’s simple, I love playing tennis.
‘But, of course, it’s tiring and frustrating to have part of my tennis career on the recovery process and trying to fight against this stuff all the time.’
Nadal has now come off worst from seven out of his last nine matches going back to the US Open, a ratio of defeats not equalled since right at the start of his career.
Now that he is 36 and a father, there will inevitably be speculation over how much more he will want to take, and he has not been the same since pulling out of last year’s Wimbledon semi-final.
America’s Mackenzie McDonald went on to secure his first win over a Top 5 seed at a Slam
Although no male player has won more Grand Slam titles the Spaniard’s career has been marred by injuries
Even before the incident he was struggling against the contrastingly mobile 27-year-old McDonald, but thereafter his movement was clearly restricted and it seemed only a collapse from his opponent would save him.
Nadal was struggling to stay in the second set at 3-5 when a relatively innocuous movement on the baseline saw him suddenly pull up and clutch his lower left side.
Already he had been in a grouchy mood, giving the umpire an uncharacteristic volley over the use of the shot clock between serves.
He is due to play in Dubai next month, though his participation must now be in the balance, at best.
The Spaniard’s wife was seen wiping tears from her eyes as she watched him crash out
McDonald advanced through to the third round following his straight-sets 6-4 6-4 7-5 victory
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