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Melbourne (AFP) – Rafael Nadal suffered a crushing defeat to American Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open on Wednesday, leaving the Spaniard out for the first time in seven years in a major tournament.
A look at the 36-year-old Spaniard’s surprise defeats at the Grand Slams since his first victory at Roland-Garros in 2005.
Impressed by his first success at the Porte d’Auteuil at the age of 19, Nadal stumbled in four sets against Luxembourg’s Gilles Müller in the second round at Wimbledon a few weeks later. Faced with this very good server on a fast surface, Majorca’s game was still like a pure clay court pro. In 2017, he lost to the same opponent in five sets in the last 16 at Wimbledon.
After two victories at the All England Club in 2008 and 2010, Nadal began fighting at the London court. He has not reached the Wimbledon final since 2011. This loss of direction earned him a staggering five-set defeat in the second round against Czech Lukas Rosol, who finished 100th in the world the following year.
The following year, Nadal performed even worse when he lost at Wimbledon for the first time in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament against world 135th-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis. However, the Spaniard made it to nine consecutive finals after returning to competition in February following a prolonged injury to his left knee.
Nadal’s Wimbledon troubles continued in 2015 with a fourth straight qualifier leading to the quarterfinals. This time it was qualifier Germany’s Dustin Brown who knocked him out in the second round in four sets after beating him dry on grass at Halle in 2014. Two months later, the Spaniard succumbed to the US Open. He played against Italian Fabio Fognini in the third round and therefore closed the season without winning a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 2005.
Being in complete doubt about the rest of his career and the victim of several successive injuries, Nadal saw yet another disappointment, leaving the 2016 Australian Open with a five-set loss to compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the first round. He was defeated at Roland-Garros, then absent at Wimbledon, then eliminated in five rounds at the US Open by Frenchman Lucas Pouille in the 16th round. For the first time in 11 years, he failed to reach at least the quarterfinals in one of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
Nadal, now a father, has struggled since his retirement from Wimbledon last season due to a semi-final injury and then knocked out in four sets (eighth) at the US Open against American Frances Tiafoe and has come close to ‘Australia’. Open 2023 without bookmarks. The 36-year-old player, who suffered a hip injury, lost in three sets to the American Mackenzie McDonald, who was 65th in ATP in the second round.
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