Australian Open Shocker: Defending Champion Rafael Nadal Knocked Out
13:26 18.01.2023 (Updated: 13:53 18.01.2023)
© AP Photo / Asanka Brendon RatnayakeRafael Nadal of Spain wipes the sweat from his face during his second round match against Mackenzie McDonald of the U.S., at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023.
© AP Photo / Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
Rafael Nadal's Australian Open title defense was marred by a hip injury that once again appeared to flare up in his second-round exit.
American star Mackenzie McDonald caused one of the biggest upsets in tennis history after he knocked out defending champion Rafael Nadal in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The 22-time Grand Slam winner looked completely out of touch, besides struggling with physical issues, eventually losing 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in 2 hours and 32 minutes at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne during the afternoon.
The second-round defeat at this year's Australian Open is his earliest exit from the first Major of the year since 2016.
The loss is also in complete contrast to his 2022 heroics when he made a come back from the brink against Russian Daniil Medvedev to become the first men's player to lift 21 Grand Slam titles.
Opportunity for Serbia's Djokovic?
Nadal's shocking departure, however, has opened the gates for Novak Djokovic to equal the Spaniard's record of 22 Grand Slams. The Serbian pro couldn't participate in last year's event after departing from Australian shores due to his unvaccinated status.
Djokovic currently has 21 Slams to his name and is one behind the left-hander — but a victory in Melbourne Park next weekend would put him on an even keel with the 36-year-old.
Djokovic is the most successful player Down Under, having won the Australian Open on nine previous occasions with his most recent victory coming there in 2021.