Rafael Nadal keeps Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz behind



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Rafael Nadal keeps Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz behind

Rafael Nadal was the top seed and the defending champion at the Australian Open. However, the Spaniard was far from winning another Major title after struggling with injuries for seven months. Rafa came to Melbourne without form and experienced another setback to drop 1955 points following the second-round loss.

Thus, a 22-time Major winner will leave the top-5 and become world no. 6 the following Monday. Nadal stayed in front of Felix Auger-Aliassime, Taylor Fritz and Holger Rune, the young guns who also failed to reach the quarter-final at Melbourne Park.

Rafa was a player to beat in the first half of 2022, claiming two Major titles and winning 20 matches in a row. However, he experienced an abdominal injury at Wimbledon and withdrew ahead of the semi-final. The veteran is yet to find his form again, playing only 13 encounters after the All England Club and scoring four victories!

Rafael Nadal will drop 1955 ATP points after the Australian Open.

Rafa passed the first obstacle at the Australian Open, but it was clear he needed more to go all the way. Nadal faced Mackenzie McDonald in the second round and fell 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 at Rod Laver Arena.

The Spaniard injured his left hip in the second set and found himself in a challenging position. Refusing to surrender, Nadal gave his best in the third set, only to hit the exit door after McDonald's late break. The American collected five breaks from eight opportunities and lost serve only twice to move over the top in style.

Mackenzie played brave tennis and built the lead in the quickest rallies up to four strokes, leaving the rival without any rhythm. The lower-ranked player broke Rafa in the opener's games one and five for 4-1 in under 20 minutes.

Nadal reduced the deficit with a break in game six, and McDonald fended off a break point at 5-4 to bring the set home. The second set saw back-to-back breaks in the early stage, and Rafa squandered a game point at 3-3 to lose serve and push the rival in front.

The American landed an ace in the eighth game to confirm the advantage, and the Spaniard asked for a medical timeout on his left hip. Rafa left the court to receive the treatment and held in game nine to prolong the set. McDonald brought it home after Nadal's tired forehand at 5-4 to drive closer to the finish line.

Rafa continued and gave his best in the third set, fighting like a true champion despite struggling to move or hit a backhand. He fired an ace on a break point at 4-4 and held to stay in contention. Mackenzie leveled the score at 5-5 and placed a backhand down the line winner in the next one to grab a decisive break.

The American landed a service winner while serving for the victory in game 12 to seal the deal and dethrone a 22-time Major winner. Nadal will miss between six and eight weeks and struggle to remain in the top-10 without playing in Indian Wells and going deep.