February 8, 2023

If anyone understands the pain of injury, it’s Mackenzie McDonald.

The American stunned a limping Rafael Nadal under the lights of Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena in the biggest win of his career.

World number 2 Nadal described himself as mentally destroyed when his title defense ended in the second round. His wife, in the stands, was crying when her body collapsed.

Flash back to 2019 and it was McDonald, just three games into a first-round doubles match at the French Open with fellow American Reilly Opelka, who saw everything change.

Mackenzie McDonald (right) defeated former world number 1 Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open

Three And A Half Years Ago, Mcdonald Was Unable To Walk For Two Months After Surgery.

Three and a half years ago, McDonald was unable to walk for two months after surgery.

McDonald tore his right proximal hamstring and after going under the knife for surgery, he spent two months barely able to walk.

“It took a really serious team and a lot of hard work,” Mackenzie said, via the ATP circuit.

‘The surgery was pretty big. I have a huge scar under my butt and I couldn’t walk for the first month and a half, two months. Time passed very slowly.

McDonald was locked in his Florida apartment unable to get out, not even get to the bathroom to shower. It fell to his grandmother to cheer him up, since she regularly sent him flowers to cheer him up.

‘I didn’t leave my apartment. I could barely shower, go to the bathroom. I couldn’t walk.

McDonald’s, now 27, is far from an overnight success. Beating a former world number 1 has been a 24-year process since his first coach, Rosie Bareis, sat on a milk carton at the Harbor Bay Club in Northern California to throw balls at him when she was three. years.

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The son of Michael McDonald, a self-made Scottish-English oral surgeon, and Vivian Young, of Chinese descent, McDonald was guided down the path of tennis from an early age. Training at 6:30 am before school became the norm.

His Training Began Young, Working With Rosie Bareis At The Harbor Bay Club In California.

His training began young, working with Rosie Bareis at the Harbor Bay Club in California.

“I remember I was in first grade with Rosie,” she previously explained. ‘It was many hours. She would sit on a milk carton and drop balls. She was hard on me.

McDonald grew up in the Bay Area and attended Piedmont High School in California, the same high school that once honed the skills of former world number 4 Brad Gilbert.

Every once in a while, McDonald would raise an eyebrow on the junior circuit, but it wasn’t until he entered UCLA as a freshman in 2014, ranked the No. 1 player going into college, that his notoriety began to reach its peak. maximum.

The McDonald family quickly became well known on campus with Mackenzie thriving on the tennis court and her older sister, Dana, a member of the UCLA gymnastics team that would eventually make the junior Olympic team.

McDonald watched with some envy as people his age began to make waves on the ATP Tour, all while he balanced his training with his major in political science.

But persisting for three years, in 2016 McDonald became the first college player since Matias Boeker of the University of Georgia in 2001 to win the NCAA singles and doubles titles.

He Quickly Started Collecting Trophies As A Young Player And Was Supported By His Father Michael.

He quickly started collecting trophies as a young player and was supported by his father Michael.

It was a class apart, and months after winning those titles, he announced that he would not return to UCLA for his senior year. McDonald was taking the step to turn professional.

Within weeks, he found himself hitting Roger Federer, one of his sporting idols, and in 2017, McDonald was making a splash at Wimbledon, ultimately losing in the fourth round to Canada’s Milos Raonic.

Close friends with fellow American players Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul, McDonald knew he needed more in his game to rise to the top.

Kobe Bryant, along with Federer, is one of McDonald’s biggest inspirations and in 2019, a couple of months after he was finally able to walk again, he met the LA Lakers legend.

They shook hands, chatted, and Bryant wrote a message of support on the cover of his then-new book Legacy and the Queen, which he wrote with Annie Matthew.

McDonald’s simply tagged the Instagram post: ‘Mindset’.

La Lakers Icon Kobe Bryant (Left) Is One Of Her Biggest Inspirations And They Met In 2019

LA Lakers icon Kobe Bryant (left) is one of her biggest inspirations and they met in 2019

Mcdonald Now Resides In Orlando, Florida With His Girlfriend And Game Partner, Maria Mateas.

McDonald now resides in Orlando, Florida with his girlfriend and game partner, Maria Mateas.

It was that mindset that has stuck with McDonald since he returned to action in 2020, fitter than ever after career-threatening surgery on the ATP Tour.

The now Orlando resident, who is dating fellow US player Maria Mateas and is coached by former world number 15 Robby Ginepri, knows his strengths and knows that Bryant never felt inferior looking into his opponent’s eyes.

Before his Melbourne showdown with Nadal, McDonald sought advice from his close friend Tiafoe.

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It was something of a running joke when the draw lined up that McDonald was the only one of four friends not to have beaten the Spaniard.

“I said to Mackie, ‘Listen, you could join the three friends: me, Fritz and Tommy. We all have it. I don’t know if you want to join,’” Tiafoe said. according to the ATP.

“Plus, I told him, ‘You’re going to be in a position to win today. You can win today.’”

McDonald, who entered the tournament ranked 65th in the singles, laughed it off, not taking the size of the task lightly.

He Has Leaned On Friends Like Frances Tiafoe (Center) And Taylor Fritz (Second From Right) Before Playing Nadal, And His Two Fellow American Players Have Beaten The Spaniard.

He has leaned on friends like Frances Tiafoe (center) and Taylor Fritz (second from right) before playing Nadal, and his two fellow American players have beaten the Spaniard.

It wasn’t until he returned to the locker room after a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory that the size of his achievement was realized. As the excitement washed over him, Michael’s father was posting photos of him playing tennis as a child on Instagram. This was a victory for the entire family’s belief in him in the process.

“I was in the locker room and I said, ‘Hey, that’s really big for me,’ because I haven’t beaten someone of that caliber,” McDonald said.

“GOAT victories are not easy,” added Tiafoe. ‘Something to tell your grandchildren one day, and you have to be happy for that guy.’

Tiafoe is right and this will be a story that McDonald will never tire of telling his nephew Rome.

It’s Yoshihito Nishioka next up in the third round having beaten Nadal, but it was overcoming his inability to walk that remains his biggest win of all.