Wife in tears as hobbling Rafael Nadal, defending champion, crashes out of Australian Open 2023
Rafael Nadal of Spain looks dejected in their round two singles match against Mackenzie McDonald of the United States during Day 3 of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 18, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Australian Open 2023 witnessed a shocking outcome on Wednesday (18), its third day, when defending champion Rafael Nadal crashed out with a straight-set loss to world No.55 Mackenzie Macdonald in the second round. What made it even more heart-shattering for the Spaniard’s fans is that the 36-year-old struggled with an apparent leg or back injury for the latter part of the match, which virtually turned him into a pedestrian and it seemed he could retire at one point.
However, it didn’t happen but Nadal lost the game 4-6, 4-6, 5-7 against the American. And the moment when a visibly uncomfortable Nadal, winner of 22 Grand Slam titles, was forced to go off the court for an injury check-up, his wife Maria Francisca Perello was seen trying to fight back tears.
Nadal never looked in control at the beginning against a determined opponent and struggled to score points on his first serve. During the first set, he made a number of unforced errors, and kept losing service games at crucial moments to squander the first two sets. He still tried to make a comeback in the third one despite the worsening injury conditions but could not make it,
Macdonald later showered praise on Nadal in the post-match interview calling him an “incredible champion”.
The 27-year-old said that Nadal tried his best even after the injury and even reminisced about their last meeting – a match where he just won four games.
“He’s an incredible champion, he’s never going to give up regardless of the situation so even closing it out against a top guy like that is always tough,” Macdonald said on the court.
“I was trying to stay so focused on what I was doing and he kind of got me out of that with what he was doing. But I kind of just kept focusing on myself and got through,” he added.
Nadal beat the UK’s Jack Draper in the first round 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.