Rafael Nadal: 'Sacrifice is when you are doing things that...'
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 2300
Reigning champion Rafael Nadal hit the starting gate at the Australian Open. Nadal fell to Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 32 minutes in the second round, losing many points and extending his tough physical moment that began at Wimbledon last year.
Nadal suffered a hip injury, struggling from the closing stages of the second set, but staying on court and fighting until the end. This year's Australian Open was not going to go down well for the 21-time Major champion, who was heading to Melbourne in not the best of shape.
In addition, Rafa had a hard time finding the rhythm in the Rod Laver Arena, with the towels too far from him and the ball boys without permission to approach them. Nadal argued with chair umpire Marijana Veljovic at 1-4 in the first set, saying that she is under constant pressure in her service games.
Mackenzie dominated Rafa after a great display, losing serve twice and getting five breaks from eight chances. The American had the upper hand in the shorter rallies, up to four shots, keeping the ball on his racket and prevailing in the closing stages of the third set for a spot in the round of 16.
McDonald broke in the first game of the match and extended the difference to 4-1 in less than 20 minutes. Nadal rallied from a break in the sixth game and created a break chance at 4-5. Mackenzie saved her and forced Rafa to win.
Mackenzie made the save and forced Rafa's mistake for 6-4 in 46 minutes. They traded breaks early in the second set, and McDonald followed up with three comfortable serving turns to keep the pressure on the other side. Nadal wasted a match point at 3-3 and missed a half volley to lose serve and fall behind.
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 left the court and held on in the ninth game once he returned to extend the set. McDonald held to 30 in the tenth game after Nadal tired of his forehand to close out the set and build a massive lead after one hour and 49 minutes.
Rafa Nadal lost to Mackenzie McDonald
Rafael Nadal's run at the 2023 Australian Open campaign came to a heartbreaking end. "It's a very simple thing: I like what I do," the Spaniard said. "I like playing tennis. I know it's not forever.
I like to feel myself competitive. I like to fight for the things that I have been fighting for almost half of my life or even more. When you do things that you like to do, at the end of the day, it's not a sacrifice. You are doing the things that you want to do. Sacrifice is when you are doing things that you don't want to do, you know," Nadal added.