'Rafael Nadal kicked my butt at Roland Garros,' says Mackenzie McDonald

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'Rafael Nadal kicked my butt at Roland Garros,' says Mackenzie McDonald

Rafael Nadal and Mackenzie McDonald have met on the notable scene twice. Their first clash came at Roland Garros 2020, with Nadal beating McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in an hour and 40 minutes in the second round. The American avenged that loss at the Australian Open last week, dethroning a 21-time Major winner 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 32 minutes.

Nadal injured his left hip in the second set, refusing to surrender and fighting until the end. McDonald recalled their Roland Garros clash, saying Nadal kicked his butt. Rafa fired 31 winners and 15 unforced errors, never facing a break point on Court Philippe-Chatrier and stealing the rival's serve seven times from eight opportunities.

Nadal earned his first break in the encounter's fourth game thanks to a backhand down the line winner. The Spaniard broke again in game six and held at 30 in the next one for 6-1 in half an hour. Mackenzie was powerless on serve and return in set number two, fading from the court and allowing Nadal to deliver a bagel and rattle off 11 straight games!

Nadal broke at 15 in the first game when Mackenzie netted a backhand and grabbed his fourth return game in a row at 2-0 to extend the gap. The king of clay fired a backhand down the line winner for another break in game five and landed a service winner in the next one for 6-1, 6-0 in 64 minutes!

Mackenzie McDonald spoke about his first duel against Rafael Nadal.

Mackenzie ended his drought after dropping 11 straight games and held with a backhand winner in the third set's first game. Rafa grabbed a break in game three following a backhand slice mistake from the American, moving 2-1 in front and closer to the finish line.

Nadal closed the fourth game with a volley winner, and Mackenzie produced a fine hold after a forehand winner a few minutes later to remain within one break deficit. Finding the rhythm on serve in those moments, McDonald landed a drop shot winner for the third comfortable hold, reducing the deficit to 3-4.

Never putting a foot wrong in his games, Rafa closed the eighth game with a service winner, forcing the opponent to serve to stay in the match. Nadal landed a backhand crosscourt winner to secure another break and sail into the next round.

"It was very tough to stay mentally engaged. I found a way to pull it out, and I'm thrilled. Rafa is a grand champion who never gives up, regardless of the situation. Closing the match against the rivals from the top is always challenging, and I did well.

The last time I played against Rafa was at Court Philippe-Chatrier at Roland Garros, and he kicked my butt. It's hard to hit through him on clay, but I liked my chances on the hard court here in Melbourne. I got the opportunity and took the most from it," Mackenzie McDonald said.