January 18, (THEWILL) – In a shocking turn of events, defending champion Rafael Nadal has been forced to withdraw from the Australian Open due to a hip injury.
The 36-year-old Spaniard was trailing 6-4, 5-3 in his second-round match against American Mackenzie McDonald when he called for a medical timeout. Despite returning to the court and putting up a valiant effort, Nadal was unable to force a fourth set and ultimately had to retire from the match.
McDonald, who got off to a strong start by capitalizing on early errors from Nadal and securing two breaks, expressed his admiration for the champion. “He’s an incredible champion. He’s never going to give up regardless of the situation so even closing it out like a top guy like that is always tough,” McDonald said after the match.
The American also reflected on their previous match, which took place on the clay courts of the French Open. “Last time I played him was on [Court Philippe] Chatrier and he kicked my butt. On clay court, it is tough to hit through but on hard I like my chances,” McDonald said.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion’s future remains uncertain as he has now lost seven of his last nine singles matches. Fans and fellow players alike will be eager to see if Nadal will be able to recover from this injury and make a comeback in future tournaments.