AO 2023: Injured Nadal falls, Gauff maintains momentum

The drama and absorbing action continued to unfold on day three down at Melbourne Park.

Rafael Nadal Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The rain ripped through the schedule on Tuesday at the Australian Open, but that meant day three was an all-star cast from the very first ball.

Here are the key headlines from around the grounds...

Nadal defiant despite injury woes


World No.65 Mackenzie McDonald posted one of his finest victories with a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 scoreboard to defeat the physically hampered defending champion Rafael Nadal.

McDonald was in charge throughout, before Nadal sustained a hip injury deep in the second set.

The American advances to take on 31st seed Yoshihito Nishioka, whereas for Nadal it's another unfortunate stint on the sidelines.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion insists he will dig deep once again to reach for his peak powers.

"I didn't want to retire, to be defending champion here. Better like this at the end. I lost. Congratulate the opponent," said a deflated Nadal, refusing to throw in the towel.

"Sometimes it's frustrating. Sometimes it's difficult to accept. Sometimes you feel super tired about all this stuff in terms of injuries.

"I can't complain about my life at all. So just in terms of sports and in terms of injuries and tough moments, that's another one. Just can't say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying.

"So I really hope that that don't put me out of the court for a long time. I went through this process too many times in my career, and I am ready to keep doing, but that's not easy, without a doubt."

Rafael Nadal Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Business mode for Swiatek


World No.1 Iga Swiatek elevated her level from a cagey first round to take out amiable Colombian Camila Osorio 6-2, 6-3.

Having broken six times to command play and book a meeting with Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa, Swiatek revealed she switched up her pre-match tunes to freshen up her approach.

"I actually just changed my playlist before the match and I was listening to the same songs for two years, so it was tough but it's working," said Swiatek, keeping a flavour of rock music with the likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Lenny Kravitz. "Hopefully these songs aren't going to mess up my head."

Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

USA 'locked in' all the way


The stars and stripes continue to swarm the scoreboards with positive scorelines.

World No.3 Jessica Pegula set the tone, edging out a spirited Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 7-6(5) to leap into the last 32 for the ninth time in the past 10 majors.

Coco Gauff opened the night session on Rod Laver Arena with an enthralling 6-3, 7-6(4) clash with 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

The No.7 seed excelled as a front runner and managed to fend off a late push from the Brit in a catalogue of all-court rallies.

"I know a lot of people were looking forward to that matchup. I'm glad we got the prime spot. I hope we delivered to everyone's entertainment," said Gauff.

"In a lot of those points I was just trying to hang in there. For the most part I think I did well.

"There's no way you can go through a whole tournament playing every match perfect, so I think it's all about being resilient when you need to."

The American contingent was further boosted by Madison Keys dismissing Wang Xinyu 6-3, 6-2 and Frances Tiafoe toppling teenage prospect Shang Juncheng 6-4, 6-4, 6-1.

"That dude is special. He is going to be a problem for a long time. He is 17 playing like that, hitting the ball like that, moving like that," said No.16 seed Tiafoe, praising his opponent. "Whew, the boy is a problem. That boy is going to be mean."

And last but not least... 2022 finalist Danielle Collins managed to complete a 6-7(1), 6-2, 7-6 (10-6) turnaround to defeat Karolina Muchova. The No.13 seeds moves on to tackle Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

Maria Sakkari Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Sakkari strikes back


The roaring celebration said it all, Maria Sakkari knew she had escaped.

The No.6 seed withstood a barrage of shots and dynamic play from North Carolina State University prodigy Diana Shnaider.

The 18-year-old qualifier took the opener before Sakkari responded in style 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

"There were moments in the match where I thought I was gonna lose, but then my belief somehow woke me up," suggested the Greek.

"I've shown myself to everyone I have a very good game and a game I can develop even more."

China's Zhu Lin will test Sakkari in the third round after swatting aside 32nd seed Jil Teichmann 6-2, 6-2. 

Key result catch up


Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina held her nerve to oust No.15 seed and 2019 finalist Petra Kvitova 7-5, 6-4 to book a third round encounter with 2021 Roland-Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova.

Jannik Sinner sauntered through in straights in stark contrast to Felix Auger-Aliassime. The No.6 seed had to claw his way back from two sets down against Alex Molcan.

Two-time runner-up Daniil Medvedev denied John Millman a dream home win 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, meanwhile No.3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas surrendered just five games to Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata.