Nadal crashes out of Australian Open, says ‘mentally destroyed’

Rafael Nadal says he is “mentally destroyed” after his Australian Open title defence came to an end in the second round.

Spaniard Nadal struggled with a left hip problem as he fell to a 6-4 6-3 7-5 defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald.

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.

“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.”

Speaking at his post-match news conference, 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal 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.

“[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.”

Nadal was trailing by a set and a break when he pulled up with the injury, taking a medical timeout towards the end of the second set before continuing.

He said he had considered stopping “all the time” but “didn’t want to leave the court with a retirement”.

“Just try your best until the end,” added Nadal, who won his second Melbourne title 12 months ago. “It doesn’t matter the chances that you have. 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, and I tried of course to not increase the damage, because I didn’t know what’s going on.”

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