2023 In Review: Rafael Nadal injures his left hip, ends season

Rafael Nadal experienced a severe hip injury in the Australian Open second round

by Jovica Ilic
2023 In Review: Rafael Nadal injures his left hip, ends season
© Cameron Spencer / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal started the season behind us as world no. 2 after claiming two Major titles in 2022. However, the Spaniard already ended his 2023 campaign in the second round of the Australian Open, falling to Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 after two hours and 32 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal experienced a left hip injury in the closing stages of the second set. He risked a lot while continuing playing, losing serve late in the third set and embracing his worst Major loss in seven years. The Spanish veteran kicked off the year with two United Cup losses, heading to Melbourne with no form or confidence.

The defending champion defeated Jack Draper in the first round before hitting the exit door in what turned out to be his last match of the season. McDonald served well and tamed his strokes nicely with 42 winners and 22 unforced errors.

The American lost serve two times and grabbed five breaks that carried him toward a career-best victory. Mackenzie played attacking tennis, building a massive lead in the shortest range up to four strokes and earning the victory in that segment.

Rafael Nadal fell to Mackenzie McDonald in straight sets in Melbourne.

Nadal lost serve in the encounter's opening game after the rival's deep backhand, which is never a good sign. McDonald extended his lead with another break in game five, moving 4-1 up and controlling the pace.

Rafa lost his temper, arguing with the chair umpire over the towels and the time violation. The Spaniard pulled one break back in game six with a forehand down the line winner and prolonged the set with a hold at 15 in game nine.

Mackenzie served for the opener at 5-4, and Nadal created a break chance with a forehand down the line winner. The American saved it with a service winner and forced the rival's mistake for 6-4 after 46 minutes. Rafa netted a backhand in the second set's first game, getting broken at love and falling 2-0 behind.

The Spaniard denied a break point in the third game, ending his downfall and breaking in the next one to level the score at 2-2. Mackenzie stole Rafa's serve in game seven, and a 22-time Major winner experienced a hip injury in the next one, requiring a medical timeout and reducing his chances.

McDonald wrapped up the set with a hold in game ten, moving two sets to love in front after an hour and 49 minutes. Despite an obvious pain, Nadal refused to retire, giving everything to remain competitive in the third set.

Rafa saved a break point in game nine with an ace and cracked a forehand crosscourt winner for 5-4. Mackenzie grabbed a break at 5-5 with a winner at the net, moving in front and serving for the victory. The American held at 15 in game 12, emerging over the top and celebrating his career-best victory.

Rafael Nadal Australian Open