Rafael Nadal is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks after sustaining a hip injury during his loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open on Wednesday. The defending champion and number one seed went down in straight sets to the American.

The 22-time men's singles Grand Slam champion suffered the injury late in the second set. After a medical timeout, Nadal refused to retire from the match, and put up a brave fight before going down 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 32 minutes,

The Spaniard revealed that he did not want to retire being the defending champion. Nadal's wife Xisca Perello was in tears in the stands, while his coach Carlos Moya looked dejected on seeing his charge pull up with yet another injury.

"I thought about retiring, I was not able to hit the backhand or run at all, but I wanted to finish the match. I didn't ask my team if I should retire or not. I'm old enough to take my decisions. Didn't want to retire as the defending champion," Nadal told reporters after the game.

The extent of the injury was unclear in the immediate aftermath of the match, but following an MRI, Nadal confirmed that it was as initially feared, a hip injury. The 14-time French Open champion explained his next steps in the hope of making a quick return to the ATP Tour.

"The scan showed a grade two injury in the psoas of the left leg," Nadal tweeted on Thursday. "Now it is time to have rest and anti-inflammatory physiotherapy. The normal recovery time is six to eight weeks."

The time frame indicated by Nadal means the Spaniard will be fit in time for the first Masters Series tournament of the season at Indian Wells in March. The former world number one will be hoping to get back to full fitness by the time the clay court swing gets underway a month later.

The French Open in June will be Nadal's best chance to add a 23rd Grand Slam title to his kitty. The Spanish tennis legend's record of 22 major titles could be equaled in Melbourne next week. "Big Three" rival Novak Djokovic is among the favourites to claim the title, his 10th in Melbourne.

Rafael Nadal returns to the scene of one of his greatest Grand Slam triumphs when the Australian Open begins on Monday
Rafael Nadal is facing a six to eight week spell on the sidelines after sustaining a hip injury at the 2023 Australian Open AFP News