Rafael Nadal, helpless then diminished, leaves the Australian Open through the back door

After the spring at the launch of the Australian Open, Monday January 16, the heat wave on the second day, Wednesday saw autumn show up in Melbourne Park, brutally refreshed by an endless curtain of rain, under the grayness. It was also a cold shower for the defending champion at the Rod Laver Arena, one of the only three courts spared by the day’s capricious weather because it was equipped with a roof. Rafael Nadal took the door in the second round of the first Grand Slam of the season, eliminated by the American Mackenzie McDonald (6-4, 6-4, 7-5).

“Today, I believed in my chances. Unlike Roland Garros [au deuxième tour en 2020, où l’Américain n’avait inscrit que quatre jeux]this time I was not afraid of him »reacted on 65e world, which signs there the biggest victory of his career still virgin of any prize list on the great circuit.

In the conditions indoor that he tastes little, where his ball “squirts” less, the Spaniard has never been in a position to hope for another outcome, suffering for almost two sets the game of an uninhibited opponent, before injuring himself on the hip. “I couldn’t hit my backhand and chase the balls. I considered giving up, but as the defending champion, I didn’t want to leave this court like that. And today [McDonald] played at a very high level.” explained the world number 2, who will leave the top 5 at the end of this Australian Open.

In just twenty minutes of play, McDonald was already taking off to lead 4-1. White cap on his head despite the roof, fist clenched, the 27-year-old had no difficulty reading his opponent’s game, displaying an insolent success in return and service, despite his modest height (1.78 m) . Less diligent than the American and his flat strikes, the seeded noh 1 of the tournament multiplied the faults in length, out of winning shots.

On a wire since arriving in Australia

The Spaniard, who arrived in Melbourne with 6 defeats in 7 games, knew he was on the edge: “I’ve never lost so much as I do right now, that’s the truth, he admitted on Saturday at a pre-tournament press conference. I feel vulnerable, of course, but I accept the situation with humility. I need to regain my momentum and confidence, but for that I need victories. »

On Wednesday, his opponent did not give him time to find his rhythm. After an hour, the American broke away 6-4, 2-0. Without a solution, Nadal cast annoyed glances at his clan, in full force. Under the “Come on Rafa, come on! » descended from the stands, the world number 2 momentarily freed his right arm, pounding the backhand of McDonald to pick up the score.

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