Rafael Nadal said he was mentally destroyed after losing in the second round of the Australian Open.
The defending champion, who was hobbled by a hip injury, lost 4-6, 4-6, 5-7 to USA’s Mackenzie McDonald.
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Nadal, the 22-time Grand Slam champion, said he felt he “cannot move” after his earliest exit at a Grand Slam since the 2016 Australian Open, when he was eliminated in the first round.
The 2022 champion leaves the Australian Open to a standing ovation 💙
Let's hope it's not the last time we see Rafa Nadal on Rod Laver Arena 🤞🇦🇺#AusOpen | @RafaelNadal pic.twitter.com/O828vnYnbz
— Eurosport (@eurosport) January 18, 2023
“[I] just can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying,” he said.
“Hopefully, it is nothing too bad. In the end [there] have been three positive weeks in terms of practice.”
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The 36-year-old said he was carrying the injury before the match but the pain had been “nothing like today”.
“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.
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“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.”
The Spaniard’s legendary career has frequently been haunted by physical ailments, with 2022 another rollercoaster year.
After winning the Australian Open, he suffered a stress fracture of the ribs in March before requiring daily pain-killing injections in his left foot to see him through to a 14th French Open title in June.
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Then his bid for a third Wimbledon crown was shattered by an abdominal injury.
Asked why he kept going, Nadal replied: “It’s a very simple thing: I like what I do. I like playing tennis. I know it’s not forever.”
Gauff sends Raducanu packing
Emma Raducanu went down 3-6, 6-7 (4) Coco Gauff in a gripping second-round match at the Australian Open.
The 20-year-old Brit had battled an ankle injury before the Melbourne major.
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Defeat means Raducanu has not reached the third round of a Grand Slam since her stunning 2021 US Open win.