DEFENDING champion Rafa Nadal crashed out of the Australian Open at the second round stage on Wednesday after suffering a hip injury during his 6-4 6-4 7-5 defeat by America’s Mackenzie McDonald.
The Mallorcan player had an indifferent build up to the first Grand Slam of the year, but overcame Britain’s Jack Draper in the first round on Monday.
It was his earliest Grand Slam exit in seven years.
Nadal appeared to suffer a strain in his left hip while running for a backhand deep in the second set at Rod Laver Arena and after receiving attention from a trainer he took an off-court medical time-out when trailing 6-4 5-3.
He returned grim faced to play out the match but his movement was clearly affected, particularly on his backhand side, paving the way for McDonald to win and thus ending the Spaniard’s bid for a third title at Melbourne Park.
Speaking afterwards, Nadal said: “I noticed something in my hip and it was over for me.”
“I had noticed something in previous days but nothing like today.”
“I didn’t ask the physio if I had to retire because I know my own body and I didn’t want to retire and leave the court because I was the defending champion here, “ he commented.
“I tried to continue without hurting myself anymore but I couldn’t run and I couldn’t hit my backhand.”
The result means that arch rival Novak Djokovic- a nine time winner at Melbourne- will level up Nadal’s Grand Slam tally of 22 titles if he’s victorious in the final a week on Sunday.