Rafael Nadal made history at the Australian Open a year ago when he won a then-record 21st Grand Slam crown, but his dispiriting defeat on Wednesday raises fresh questions about how much longer the ailing Spaniard can keep going.
And the sight of his “funeral march” off Rod Laver Arena after a straight-sets loss to 65th-ranked Mackenzie McDonald – which saw Nadal’s wife Mery in tears – has experts believing the legend has reached a tipping point with his body.
Nadal hobbled out of the arena, his hip sore and his title defence over after just two matches. So what now for one of the best men’s tennis players of all time?
Watch Tennis Live with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. Live Coverage of ATP + WTA Tour Tournaments including Every Finals Match. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
In the short term, 36-year-old Nadal needs to diagnose and fix his hip. In the aftermath of his physically…