Ailing Defending Champion Nadal Bows Out Of Australian Open

Defending champion Rafa Nadal, bowed out of the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday after suffering an injury during his 6-4 6-4 7-5 defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald.

Nadal’s elimination shakes up the men’s draw and puts a twist in the Grand Slam titles race, with nine-times champion Novak Djokovic able to draw level with the Spaniard’s 22 major championships should he take a 10th crown at Melbourne Park.

Nadal appeared to suffer a strain in his left hip area while running for a backhand deep in the second set at Rod Laver Arena and after receiving attention from a trainer he took an off-court medical time-out while trailing.

Before the injury McDonald had played superbly to take the first set, going toe-to-toe with the 36-year-old Spaniard and winning most of the ferocious baseline exchanges.