MELBOURNE, Australia — The end came all at Only once Rafael NadalIt happened gradually, but it did happen.

Mackenzie McDonald is down one set, and Mackenzie McDonald is on the ropes for the second round. Australian Open This Wednesday Nadal While chasing down the shot, he injured his hip. With concern in his eyes, he immediately looked to his coaches sitting courtside. at Rod Laver Arena. Then, he sat down in a corner and took a deep breath. He then returned to his normal routine, but for some reason, it was too late. NadalQuitting is worse than losing.

His day and tournament being over, he saw two aces flash by. He was about to lose two sets against McDonalds. The 27-year-old American had never been in the top 40 world rankings. After playing the match of his dreams for almost two sets, McDonald’s won the final set 6-4, 66-4, 7-5 against an injured opponent. NadalHe walked around the court almost an hour, looking like a wounded animal.

Nadal’s injury came after McDonald, a former U.C.L.A. The player had already spent over 90 minutes attempting to get his shots in when they were most needed. NadalThe No. The number one seed called for a trainer. After receiving treatment for an apparent injury to his hip and midsection, he returned to the court and continued playing.

This is the 36-year-old Nadal His game was not easy. He couldn’t move or chase balls with the passion that he has had for his entire life. His backhand was unable to generate any power. Through the 10 first games, he was unable to keep up with McDonald’s. He was hobbling about, making wild cuts in an attempt to get out of trouble and gaining points as quickly as possible. McDonalds did not get enough points. Nadal’s reach to break his serve in the 11th, then clinched the match when Nadal A final backhand return.

After it was over Nadal After receiving a standing ovation and gaining a few extra seconds to wave at the crowd, he was left with a few more minutes to go.

The defending team was announced at a press conference about 45 minutes later. Australian Open Champion said that his sadness was unbearable. His voice cracked slightly when he talked about his latest injury, which he suffered in an otherwise successful career.

“I can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally this time because I would be lying,” He stated.

This was just the latest of a series of losses that have plagued him in recent years as he battled mental and physical injuries. After the October birth of his son, he had to adapt to being a father.

Nadal He had dropped six matches in his last seven games before the tournament. Many of these losses were against younger players. One time they might have thought it was amazing to play against such a formidable opponent. They now know that they can win. NadalHis body from having played an extremely physical game over the course of his career has left him with a lot of injuries. He is now as vulnerable as ever. at At any stage of his career.

“He’s an incredible champion,” McDonald’s said that Nadal After the match. “He’s never going to give up.”

McDonald’s win was the latest in a string of successes by Americans against NadalHe is a 22-time Grand Slam Champion. He was the Grand Slam champion for almost two decades. This changed in September at U.S. OpenFrances Tiafoe (24) knocked him out during the fourth round. Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul were beaten Nadal The Spaniard attempted to make a late return from an abdominal injury in order to play in fall tournaments.

Wednesday, it was McDonald’s turn, in a scene that was eerily familiar of last year’s Wimbledon quarterfinals, when Nadal Fritz was Fritz, and he tore his abdominal muscle. He won five sets that day, despite the encouragement of his family and coaches. Those discussions didn’t materialize Wednesday. He sat silently with his wife, sister and father, while the coaches watched.

Nadal He said that he’d felt some discomfort in his hips in recent days, but not like the pain he experienced in that critical moment in the second set.

“I don’t know what’s going on, if it’s muscle, if it’s joint,” He stated. “I have history in the hip. I had to do treatments in the past, address a little. It was not this amount of problem. Now I feel I cannot move.”

McDonalds was standing on the baseline prior to the injury. Nadal at He plays his own game. Nadal’s power and topspin with his own flatter version of it, curling forehands just above the net and sending Nadal You chase the ball around corner after corner. What should you do? Nadal hit harder, so did MacDonald. He was broken Nadal’s serve early in the first and second set and kept Nadal Under pressure throughout the day, she remained as steady as possible. Nadal Through the pain.

It was a crushing defeat Nadal’s earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament since he lost in the first round of the Australian Open Seven years ago.

McDonalds was able to take a breather from the rainy weather which has engulfed the tournament ever since Tuesday. Due to the rain that fell on Wednesday, the roof was closed. This is said by the players as it slows down the game. Through the entire match Nadal His ball was too slow to reach the back court and he struggled to make contact. McDonalds caught up with him and gave him the best possible rips.

Nadal During the past 18 months, he has seen all of the lows and highs in the sport. A series of injuries prevented him from participating in the second half 2021. He then travelled to Melbourne one year ago after only seven weeks of being on crutches. He thought that this might be the last chance to see Australia after sustaining chronic foot injuries.

After being down two sets against Daniil Mevedev, from Russia, he soon returned to his form and won in Melbourne. His first appearance in thirteen years was at the final. Australian Open champion.

French OpenBefore every match, he was given injections to relieve the foot pain. He won the title and rolled for his 14th. at That tournament but left with crutches.

Without playing in a warm up tournament, he entered Wimbledon. He won five of his matches, but was forced to withdraw from the semifinals due to a torn abdominal.

Before the U.S., he only played one hardcourt match. Open In the fourth round, Tiafoe defeated him in four sets. Tiafoe became the American-born first player to win Nadal at A Grand Slam for nearly 20 years.

In late September, Nadal partnered with Roger Federer in the Swiss champion’s final competitive match. Nadal Two indoor late-season tournaments were my attempt to stay healthy, but neither went as planned.

Nadal In December, he arrived in Australia as a player for Spain in the United Cup. This is an unusual competition with men and women. He was defeated in both his matches. This is the longest stretch of his career.

Sometimes, disappointment can also be a moment of great sadness Nadal He was able to present a philosophical face, thanking God for all the blessings in his life. Tuesday was different as he tried to express gratitude for his life’s good fortune.

“Can’t come here and say, lying, that the life is fantastic and staying positive and keep fighting,” He stated. “Not now. Tomorrow starts another day. Now it’s a tough moment. It’s a tough day, and you need to accept that, and keep going. You know, in the end, I can’t complain about my life at all. So just in terms of sports and in terms of injuries and tough moments, I mean, that’s another one. Just can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time.”

Nadal Will likely need to take some time off in order to be able get well again. His attention will now shift to the French clay-court season in spring and French cuisine Open. This is the 14th time he won it and he considers it to be his best tournament.

“I like playing tennis,” He stated. “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.

All that success will mean nothing, though, if Nadal can’t maintain his health, something that only gets harder as athletes age.

Ultimately, that may be the one opponent that proves too tough, even for Nadal, but if there is any chance of delaying the inevitable a little longer, he will take it, regardless of the sacrifice.

“When you like do one thing,” He stated. “Sacrifices always make sense.