Rafael Nadal injury latest: Defending Australian Open champion crashes out in brutal fashion

Concerns about Rafael Nadal’s form and fitness have trailed him around for some time now, but after snapping his recent losing streak against Jack Draper in the first round of the Australian Open, there was a renewed hope the legendary Spaniard could string together another stirring run.

However, this hope quickly shattered when an injury plagued Nadal was overpowered by Mackenzie McDonald at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday to bring his title defence to an end. It was a cruel twist of fate that the scene of one of Nadal’s greatest triumphs– his Aus Open title charge of 2022 – was also the place where question marks around his future in the game grew to deafening levels.

What is Rafael Nadal’s injury?

After overcoming Draper in the first round, Nadal got his title defence off to a somewhat shaky but successful start.

MORE: Rafael Nadal vs Mackenzie McDonald result – Spanish legend bombs at Australian Open

The young Brit cramped up during their contest and visibly struggled. But two days on, the tables turned on Nadal in the second round when he became the one who was impacted by injury.

In a despondent mood afterwards in his press conference, the veteran confirmed it was a hip problem which caused his movement to cease up. Yet he was still unsure on what exactly the issue was.

“It has been a couple of days like this, but nothing like today in that movement,” Nadal said.

“We’re going to start talking about that now, but I don’t know what’s going on, if it’s muscle or if it’s joint.

“I have history in the hip that I had issues. I had to do treatments in the past, address a little [but] was not this amount of problem. Now I feel I cannot move.

“But I don’t know until I do the test and all this stuff, I don’t know. It’s difficult to make a resolution if it’s a muscle, if it’s the joint, if it’s the cartilage. I don’t know.”

Nadal revealed he considered retiring from the match to prevent further injury although resolved to finish it after speaking to the physiotherapist during a medical timeout.

“I was not able to hit the backhand at all,” he conceded.

“I was not able to run for the ball. But I just wanted to finish the match. That’s it.”

How did Rafael Nadal get injured?

Nadal went down in straight sets to McDonald, losing 6-4 6-4 7-5, but acknowledged the American was playing impressive tennis even before he was hampered by injury.

“I don’t know if in good conditions I will win the match,” he said.

The 21-time grand slam champion pulled up after stretching for a return shot down the line. He immediately realised the severity of his injury by calling for a medical timeout which caused plenty of distress in his player’s box.

Yet despite being impacted by the hip injury, Nadal was adamant he wanted to go out on his own terms in the match.

“I didn’t want to retire, to be defending champion here,” he stated.

“No, I didn’t want to leave the court with a retirement. Better like this at the end. I lost. Nothing to say. Congratulate the opponent.

“That’s the sport at the same time. Just try your best till the end.

“That’s the philosophy of the sport. That’s the essence of the sport by itself. I tried to follow that during all my tennis career.”

Nadal confesses to being ‘mentally destroyed’ by his injury and defeat

“You know, in the end, I can’t complain about my life at all,” Nadal said before addressing the devastating impact his injury and loss to McDonald had had on him.

“In terms of sports and in terms of injuries and tough moments, I mean, that’s another one. I just can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying.

“Hopefully, it’s nothing too bad. In the end, there have been three positive weeks in terms of practice.

“So, I really hope that that doesn’t put me out of the court for a long time, because then it’s tough to make all the recovery again.

“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.

“Life continues for me. Let’s see how the situation evolves during the next couple of days.

“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.”

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