“I cannot say that I am not mentally destroyed at this moment, because I would be lying (…) I am tired, I am sad, I am disappointed, all this is a reality,” said Nadal at a press conference, who injured his hip in Melbourne just when he began to control his party.
Trailing from the start of the match against the world number 65, the Spaniard was injured in the second set and finished the match clearly limp, conceding his earliest Grand Slam elimination since Australia in 2016.
McDonald had only won once in his entire career against a top 5 player, in 2019 against Argentine Martín del Potro, but he promised a “memorable” match and in the first game he already broke the Spaniard’s serve.
Grown up against the greatest Grand Slam winner in history, the Californian became a wall, arriving and returning all of Nadal’s blows, who became desperate until he made mistakes that were unusual for him.
With another missed serve and a 4-1 deficit on the scoreboard, Nadal was finally able to break the Californian’s serve who, anyway, took the first set. McDonald’s display continued into the restart, defending tooth and nail on Nadal’s rushes and unleashing winners when necessary.
In something unusual for him, Nadal, who had previously been angry with the chair umpire for the short time granted between serve and serve, yelled outbursts when he was again down 2-0 in the second set. Then came a mini-reaction from the Spaniard who, varying the direction of his blows more and going up to the net more often, managed to equalize the score.
But when the game seemed tilted in his favor, he gave up another serve and was injured in the middle of a run to try to reach a corner ball at 4-3 on the scoreboard.
The Spaniard stopped with apparent pain and remained leaning against the barrier, covering his face with his arm. He finished the game and, with a face of circumstances, retired to the locker room, while a camera pointed at his wife in the stands, wiping away a tear.
Clearly hurt, barely able to run, he came back to try and finish the match. With quick points, set serves and clutch shots that he had hardly shown before, he held the score almost to the end of the set, until McDonald got a break in the penultimate game.
The Spaniard had already suffered hip problems and, as he explained, had had more discomfort in recent days. However, until he undergoes tests, he will not know the extent or detail of the injury.