Australian Open 2023 Day 3: Injured Rafael Nadal downed by American; Gauff, Tiafoe, Pegula keep rolling

Through the first two days, the 2023 Australian Open stayed mostly upset-free. That all changed on Day 3 when Rafael Nadal, the defending champ and No. 1 seed, lost to American Mackenzie McDonald. And it wasn't just a loss — it was a straight-sets defeat. McDonald beat Nadal 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in just two hours and 32 minutes.

McDonald, a 27-year-old who has never cracked the top 40 in the ATP rankings, played masterfully against Nadal, but he had a little help. Near the end of the second set, when Nadal was already down 1-0, he injured himself. It appeared to be his hip, and Nadal's team, including his wife, were visibly devastated when they realized he was hurt. Nadal didn't retire, but spent the rest of the match hobbling around the court, likely knowing he was going to lose.

Nadal did make one last stand in the third set, tying McDonald at five sets apiece. But the writing was on the wall by then. McDonald took the final two games, and the 2022 Australian Open champion was defeated.

How did the Americans do?

The Americans are still surging, but seven of the 20 playing on Day 3 were eliminated. The rest are still vying for the Aussie Open crown, including Danielle Collins, who survived a strong challenge from Karolina Muchova, and Mackenzie McDonald, who shockingly defeated Rafael Nadal. Here are all the Americans who won on Day 3:

  • No. 3 Jessica Pegula def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 7-6(5)

  • No. 7 Coco Gauff def. Emma Raducanu 6-3, 7-6(4)

  • No. 10 Madison Keys def. Xinyu Wang 6-3, 6-2

  • No. 13 Danielle Collins def. Karolina Muchova 6(1)-7, 6-2, 7-6(6)

  • No. 16 Frances Tiafoe def. Juncheng Shang 6-4, 6-4, 4-1

  • No. 29 Sebastian Korda def. Yosuke Watanuki 6-2, 7-5, 6-4

  • Bernarda Pera def. Qinwen Zheng 6-4, 6-4

  • Brandon Holt def. Aleksandar Vukic 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 (Round 1)

  • Denis Kudla def. Roman Safiullin 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-3 (Round 1)

  • Claire Liu def. Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-4 (Round 1)

  • Maxime Cressy def. Roberto Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(2), 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 (Round 1)

  • Michael Mmoh def. Laurent Lokoli 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-4. 6-2 (Round 1)

  • Lauren Davis def. Danka Kovinic 1-6, 7-5, 6-1

Unfortunately, Sloane Stephens, Madison Brengle, Christopher Eubanks, Elizabeth Mandlik, Catherine McNally, Alison Riske-Amritraj and the ageless John Isner were all defeated and will not advance to the next round.

More notable results

  • Iga Swiatek, the No. 1 seed, easily defeated Camila Osorio in straight sets.

  • No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas rolled over qualifier Rinky Hijikata in just 92 minutes.

  • No. 6 Maria Sakkari staged a comeback after losing the first set and ended up beating the young Diana Schnaider in three.

  • Felix Auger-Aliassime, the No. 6 men's seed, also had to stage a comeback in his match. He lost the first two sets but dominated in the final three, defeating Alex Molcan.

  • No. 8 Daria Kasatkina lost badly to Varvara Gracheva, winning just three games over two sets.

  • No. 7 Daniil Medvedev had no trouble beating John Millman in three sets.

  • No. 15 Jannik Sinner continued to be efficient and totally punishing, defeating Tomas Etcheverry in just 104 minutes.

  • The No. 15 women's seed, Petra Kvitova, lost a tough match to Anhelina Kalinina.

Other winners include Hubert Hurkacz, Barbora Krejcikova, Cam Norrie, and Elena Rybakina.

Highlight of the day

Danielle Collins, locked in a final-set tiebreaker at the end of a three-hour battle against Karolina Muchova, completely forgot about the new(ish) 10-point tiebreak rule at Grand Slams. Starting in 2022, all four Grand Slams instituted a rule requiring all final-set tiebreakers to go to 10 points instead of 7. Collins, fighting hard, forgot that rule and celebrated what she thought was her win once she hit 7 points. Watching her realize that she hadn't won (yet) was pretty funny, and she was able to laugh about it as well.

What to watch on Day 4

Novak Djokovic will be back in the spotlight on Day 4, as will many of the other top seeds. Here's a taste of what we'll see on Day 4:

  • No. 2 Ons Jabeur vs. Marketa Vondrousova

  • No. 2 Casper Ruud vs. Jensen Brooksby

  • No. 4 Novak Djokovic vs. Enzo Couacaud

  • No. 4 Caroline Garcia vs. Leylah Fernandez

  • Andy Murray vs. Thansi Kokkinakis

Of the 14 Americans playing on Day 4, all but three will be facing seeded players. Only eighth-seeded Taylor Fritz, lucky loser Denis Kudla and Aussie Open first-timer Ben Shelton will be competing against unseeded players. It'll be a big day for the Americans, and the USA contingent could be a lot smaller after tomorrow. Here are all the unseeded Americans and the seeded competitors they will be facing:

  • Jenson Brooksby vs. No. 2 Casper Ruud

  • Shelby Rogers vs. No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka

  • Maxime Cressy vs. No. 9 Holger Rune

  • Katie Volynets vs. No. 9 Veronika Kudermetova

  • Claire Liu vs. No. 12 Belinda Bencic

  • Michael Mmoh vs. No. 12 Alexander Zverev

  • Taylor Townsend vs. No. 19 Ekaterina Alexandrova

  • J.J. Wolf vs. No. 23 Diego Schwartzman

  • Brandon Holt vs. No. 24 Roberto Bautista Agut

  • Lauren Davis vs. No. 26 Elise Mertens

  • Tommy Paul vs. No. 30 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

The full Day 4 schedule is available here.

Rafael Nadal reacts during the men's singles 2nd round match against Mackenzie McDonald of the United States at Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 18, 2023. (Photo by Bai Xuefei/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal reacts during the men's singles 2nd round match against Mackenzie McDonald of the United States at Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 18, 2023. (Photo by Bai Xuefei/Xinhua via Getty Images)