Rafael Nadal - Australian Open 2023

Rafael Nadal ‘mentally destroyed’ after second round Australian Open exit

Rafael Nadal has made his earliest exit at a Grand Slam since the 2016 Australian Open, losing in straight sets to Mackenzie McDonald, 6-4 6-3 7-5.

However, that only tells half the story as the 36-year-old pulled up with a hip injury, when he was a set and a break down. Nadal’s wife, Maria Perello, was in tears as she watched her husband struggle on the Rod Laver Arena.

Speaking in his press conference after the match Nadal explained how his injuries have not only had a physical toll, but also a mental impact on him, “[I] just can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying.”

“I really hope that it doesn’t put me out of the court for a long time,” Nadal said, “It’s not only the recovery. It’s all the amount of work that you need to put together to come back at a decent level.

He continued, “I went through this process too many times in my career, and I am ready to keep doing it. I think, but that’s not easy.”

Nadal, who was the defending champion coming into the event, took a medical timeout in the second set and considered retirement, but fought valiantly until the final ball.

“Just try your best until the end,” said the Spaniard, “It doesn’t matter the chances that you have. That’s the philosophy of the sport.”

Anyone that has followed Nadal’s career will know that he is no stranger to injuries, especially over the past year. In 2022 Nadal won Roland Garros with ‘no feeling’ in his left foot, withdrew from his Wimbledon semi-final with an abdominal injury and then was suffering with this same problem at the US Open.

Nadal explained that his love of the sport is what keeps him going, “It’s a very simple thing: I like what I do. I like playing tennis. 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.”

“When you do things that you like to do, at the end of the day, it’s not a sacrifice,” the 22-time Grand Slam champion added, “Sacrifice is when you are doing things that you don’t want to do. And that was not my case. But of course it’s tiring and frustrating to [spend] a lot of my tennis career on recovering process and trying to fight against all this stuff all the time.”

“But I accept it quite well during all my tennis career, and I was able to manage it well. But of course [the] last seven months have been, again, another tough period of time. I don’t know what can happen in the future.”

For his No.65 ranked opponent, McDonald, it is arguably the biggest victory of his career. He will play Yoshihito Nishioka, on Friday, for a place in the fourth round.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.