Karen Khachanov achieved something not seen at the Australian Open in 11 years as he beat Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets at Melbourne Park.

The Russian number 18 seed remarkably won the first 14 games of the fourth-round contest, inflicting two double bagels on Japanese opponent on Sunday.

That had not been achieved in the men's draw since Philipp Petzschner won the first two sets against Lukas Rosol without losing a game in 2012, and was just the fifth time it had happened in the Open Era.

Khachanov completely dominated Nishioka until the third set, incredibly only dropping two points in the whole of the second.

Nishioka, seeded 31, showed some fight to force a third-set tie-break, but Khachanov came out on top in the breaker to seal his place in the quarter-finals, where he will face American Sebastian Korda.

"First two sets I didn't know what was going on, but it's never easy when you are going with the score too easy. You feel it," Khachanov said after the victory. "Then at one point Yoshi tried to turn it around, he pumped [up] the crowd and it's normal.

"I tried to stay focused all the match from the beginning until the end. But it's not easy to win with this score, three sets, so the third set it was a really tough one and I'm playing well, so I'm really happy to go through."

Coco Gauff revealed her frustration after her unbeaten start to 2013 was ended as the seventh seed bowed out of the Australian Open to Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth round on Sunday.

The 18-year-old American came into the Melbourne event fresh from victory at the Auckland Open but had not dropped a set in her three Australian Open victories, including toppling Emma Raducanu in the second round.

Gauff enjoyed a strong 2022 season that included reaching the US Open quarter-finals and finishing runner-up at the French Open.

But on Sunday, 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko triumphed 7-5 6-3 in one hour and 34 minutes, ending Gauff's Australian Open campaign, leaving the teenager in tears as she explained her frustration.

"I felt really good coming into the tournament, and I still feel good," Gauff told reporters. "I still feel like I've improved a lot but when you play a player like her and she plays really well, you know there's nothing you can do.

"I feel like today I would say nothing because every match you play a part in, but I feel like it was rough, so it's a little bit frustrating on that part."

Ostapenko hit 30 winners compared to Gauff's 21, while the Latvian did commit more unforced errors (27-14).

Gauff generated eight break points throughout the match but only took one, while Ostapenko took all three of hers.

"Today I learned a lot," Gauff said. "A little bit frustrated, but I think I'll rewatch and see where I went wrong and if I did go wrong.

"I feel like from the feedback I've gotten that she just played really well today. She stepped up her game when she needed to, and she held and broke me when she needed to, and I didn't do that."

Ostapenko progresses to the quarter-finals where she will take on 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina who knocked off top seed Iga Swiatek.

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have called for changes to the Australian Open schedule after several late finishes in Melbourne.

Three-time grand slam champion Murray bowed out of the season's opening major on Saturday following a four-set defeat by Roberto Bautista Agut in round three.

The 35-year-old arrived in the clash having already spent over 10 hours on court across his victories over Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Murray's 4:05am local time finish in the latter match was the third-latest in tennis history after he recovered from two sets down to deny the home favourite in a thrilling clash that took five hours and 45 minutes to settle.

The Briton subsequently voiced his concerns with scheduling, which tournament director Craig Tiley has no plans to change.

He reiterated those worries after defeat by number 24 seed Bautista Agut, suggesting the Australian Open could follow the trend set by another of the sport's major events.

"I'm sure if you went and spoke to some sleep experts and sports scientists – the people that actually really know what's important for athletes to recover – they would tell you that sleep is the number one thing, that that's the most important thing," he said.

"Finishing matches at four in the morning isn't good for the players. I would also argue it's not good for the sport, anyone involved in it. I do think there's some quite simple things that can be done to change that.

"I think the US Open went to playing two matches in the day session. That would stop the day matches running into the night session starting too late.

"I think that's quite a simple one that you could look at. You'd still get quality matches during the day. The people who bought ground passes would get to see more of the top players, which would be excellent for them.

"I think if you did that, you could also potentially bring the night sessions slightly earlier, as well, like 6:00 or 6:30. That time, those few hours, can make a difference to the players."

Nine-time Melbourne champion Djokovic, who overcame injury to defeat Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets, concurred with Murray.

"I think that players' input is always important for tournament organisation. Whether it's decisive, we know that it's not, because it comes down to what the TV broadcasters want to have," Djokovic said. "That's the ultimate decision maker.

"I would agree with [Murray's] points. I think we have days when the day sessions go longer, but probably more days statistically in average where they finish – say five, six max – and you can start the night session an hour earlier at least.

"For the crowd, it's entertaining, it's exciting. For us, it's really gruelling. Even if you go through and win, prevail in these matches, you still have to come back.

"You have your sleeping cycle, rhythm disrupted completely, not enough time really to recover for another five-setter. Something needs to be addressed in terms of the schedule after what we've seen this year."

Andy Murray is confident he can reach the latter stages of a grand slam before calling time on his career after being left "disappointed" by his third-round exit at the Australian Open.

The 35-year-old showed what he is capable of by defeating Thanasi Kokkinakis in a near-six-hour epic in the early hours of Friday, but he came unstuck against Roberto Bautista Agut on Saturday.

Murray, who was also on the court for almost four hours against Matteo Berrettini in the first round, fell just short of a place in the last 16 with a 6-1 6-7 (9-7) 6-3 6-4 loss on Margaret Court Arena.

Three-time grand slam winner Murray is already looking ahead to the Rotterdam Open in three weeks' time, though, and is hopeful of making his mark at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open later in the year. 

"I can have a deeper run than the third round of a slam, there's no question about that," he told reporters. "Obviously draws can open up for you.

"I need to also help myself with that. If I was playing at this level last year, I probably wouldn't be ranked 50, 60 in the world. It's up to me to try and change that."

Murray, who was on court for around 14 hours across his three matches in Melbourne, says the amount of hours put into practising is made worthwhile as he looks to prolong his career.

"Obviously you never know exactly when the end is going to be," he said. "I would like to go out playing tennis like this, where I'm competing with the best players in the world in the biggest events and doing myself justice.

"There were maybe times the last year or so where I didn't really feel like I was playing well, and I didn't enjoy the way that I was playing.

"Those sacrifices and that effort that I put in allowed me to get through those matches and play at a high level that I think was entertaining for the people watching.

"I felt good about the way that I was playing. It's more enjoyable for me when I'm playing like that, when I'm coming into a major event and really believing that I can do some damage."

Perhaps showing signs of rustiness from his early-morning finish against Kokkinakis, Murray struggled in the first set against Bautista Agut as three double faults – as many as he had in the whole of his second-round match – handed the initiative to his opponent.

Murray recovered from a point down in the second set to level up via a tie-break, despite trailing 5-2 and 6-4, though Bautista Agut earned the only break of serve in the third set to edge back in front.

Never before had Murray played three successive five-set matches in the main draw of a grand slam, and that remains the case as Bautista Agut shut out the loud noise generated by the crowd to recover from an early break down and take the match.

"I have a lot of mixed emotions," said Murray, who has not reached a grand slam quarter-final in six years. "I feel like I gave everything that I had to this event. So I'm proud of that.

"That is all you can ever do. You can't always control the outcome. You can't control how well you're going to play or the result. You can control the effort that you put into it, and I gave everything that I had the last three matches. I'm very proud of that.

"But I'm also disappointed because I put loads of work into the beginning of this year and was playing well enough to have a really good run, have a deep run.

"I think even tonight I'm competing against a guy 20 in the world, and it's still very tight considering the circumstances. I feel disappointed because I feel like I could have gone quite a bit further."

Number 24 seed Bautista Agut, who has only once previously reached the last eight in Melbourne, will face Tommy Paul in the next round.

For the first time in 20 years, four or fewer of the top eight seeds in the men's singles will progress to the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Daniil Medvedev's defeat to Sebastian Korda on Friday meant he joined Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz and defending champion Rafael Nadal in heading home early from the season's first grand slam.

According to Opta, it is the first time since 2003 that the round of 16 in Melbourne will include four or fewer of the top eight players in the competition.  

Nine-time champion Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, is struggling with injury ahead of his third-round tie with Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday, while world number six and fifth seed Andrey Rublev faces a tough test against Dan Evans.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is sure of his place in round four after the Greek third seed beat Tallon Griekspoor in straight sets. Felix Auger-Aliassime will go up against Jiri Lehecka for a place in the last eight.

 

Carlos Alcaraz is on course to return to tennis action next month after the world number one stepped up his recovery from injury by practising on clay.

The 19-year-old Spaniard was ruled out of the Australian Open after suffering a hamstring injury in pre-season.

That was another blow for Alcaraz, who cut short an outstanding 2022 season due to an internal oblique muscle tear he sustained during a Paris Masters quarter-final against Holger Rune in November.

Alcaraz won five titles last year – including a maiden grand slam triumph at the US Open – and surged to the top of the ATP rankings.

The teenager delivered an encouraging update on his fitness on Friday, posting pictures of himself in action on a clay court and writing: "Back on court and back on clay. VAMOS!"

Alcaraz is set to make his comeback at the Argentina Open, which start in Buenos Aires on February 13.

He won Masters titles in Madrid and Miami last year, along with triumphs in Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro and at Flushing Meadows.

Coco Gauff is excited about the prospect of players from the United States winning both singles titles at the same grand slam again following a bright start to the Australian Open for the men.

The last American to win the men's singles crown at any grand slam was Andy Roddick at the 2003 US Open.

The USA is still way out in front for all-time grand slam men's singles titles with 147, though 19 years and counting is comfortably their worst barren spell during the Open Era.

This comes after 2003 was the 15th year in a row that the USA had at least one champion in the men's majors, with the likes of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi both prolific winners.

Of course, the drought did not extend to the women, with Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin all winning at least once since Roddick's success at Flushing Meadows.

But with eight of the last 32 in the men's draw representing the USA, there is a renewed sense of optimism – and that is even accounting for their highest seed, number eight Taylor Fritz, falling in the second round.

Gauff – who beat compatriot Bernarda Pera on Friday – is the USA's next great female hope, and she is looking forward to the day Americans claim a men's and women's double at the same slam.

Asked if there was a refreshing sense of excitement around the men, Gauff said: "Yeah, definitely. I definitely think on the men's side they're thriving.

"It's like eight people in the round of 32 I saw. I think it's incredible. It's just people that you've been rooting for for a long time, and some new faces, too, that people probably haven't been rooting for a long time but fell in love with.

"I'm just excited. On the women's side, we're always like, 'the guys need to catch up, you guys need to put in your work'. I think they're here. I'm hoping that eventually, hopefully soon, we'll have our slam champion on the men's side.

"That would be pretty cool if an American woman and guy could win the same slam. I don't know when the last time that's happened or if it's ever happened. I'll be pretty excited."

Coincidentally, it last happened at Melbourne Park. In 2003, Andre Agassi and Serena Williams were victorious at the Australian Open.

Gauff is not getting carried away, but her perception is there is genuine belief among the men now, which is being fed by unity.

"I definitely think the guys are feeling it," she said. "You can see it. I think it really comes from, not the women, but the same dynamic, where everybody is doing well, so it makes you want to do well.

"We're all not competing with each other but pushing each other. I think that's what the men are having.

"They're competing against each other but also pushing each other to be better. I'm pretty sure all the American guys get along, at least that's what I think."

There were setbacks to American men's title hopes on Friday as Frances Tiafoe and Mackenzie McDonald both lost at the last-32 stage, but there was a hugely notable win too, with Sebastian Korda beating seventh seed, two-time Australian Open runner-up and former US Open champion Daniil Medvedev in straight sets.

Tournament director Craig Tiley has no plans to change the Australian Open schedule despite a 4am finish for Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Murray stormed back from two sets down to beat Australian Kokkinakis 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5 early in the early hours of Friday morning on Margaret Court Arena.

The three-time grand slam champion sealed an incredible victory in a second-round thriller that took five hours and 45 minutes to settle.

That was the longest match in Brit Murray's career and the 4.05am finish was the third-latest in the history of the sport.

Murray made his feelings over having to play at that time of day very clear, but Tiley did not see an alternative option.

"You would expect from 7pm to 12pm (the evening session) in that five-hour window, you would get two matches," Tiley said. "We also have to protect the matches. If you just put one match at night and there’s an injury, you don't have anything for fans or broadcasters.

"At this point there is no need to alter the schedule. We always look at it when we do the debrief like we do every year, we've had long matches before, at this point we've got to fit the matches into the 14 days so you don't have many options."

Murray vented his frustration at the chair umpire during the match and stated after his victory that he did not see the logic in playing so late.

"I don't know who it's beneficial for," Murray said. "We come here after the match and that's what the discussion is, rather than it being like, 'epic Murray-Kokkinakis match'. It ends in a bit of a farce.

"Amazingly people stayed until the end, and I really appreciate people doing that and creating an atmosphere for us. Some people obviously need to work the following day and everything.

"But if my child was a ball kid for a tournament and they're coming home at five in the morning, as a parent, I'm snapping at that. It's not beneficial for them. It's not beneficial for the umpires, the officials. I don't think it's amazing for the fans. It's not good for the players.

"We talk about it all the time, and it's been spoken about for years. But when you start the night matches late and have conditions like that, these things are going to happen."

Andy Murray does not believe night matches dragging on into the early hours is beneficial to anybody.

Murray came back in stunning fashion at the Australian Open in a second-round match that started late on Thursday but dragged well into Friday in Melbourne.

The former world number one reached the third round with a marathon 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5 victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis.

At five hours and 45 minutes, the five-set thriller was the longest match of Murray's career and the second-longest in Australian Open history, as the Briton claimed victory shortly after 04:00 local time.

Murray, though, sees no benefit of playing so deep into the night.

"I don't know who it is beneficial for," he said in a press conference. "We come here after the match, and that's what discussion is [about], rather than it being [on an] epic match.

"It ends in a bit of a farce. Amazingly, people stayed until the end. I really appreciate people doing that, creating an atmosphere for us.

"Some people need to work the following day. If my child was a ball kid for a tournament [and] they are coming home at five in the morning, I'm snapping at that.

"It's not beneficial for them, it's not beneficial for the umpires, the officials. It's not good for the players. We talk about it all the time. When you start the night matches, these things are going to happen."

Murray's career appeared to reach a potential end at this very tournament four years ago due to his longstanding hip issues, and it is a testament to his determination that he remains capable of going the distance in matches.

But he acknowledged there could be a health risk from long encounters such as this one, adding: "Potentially. It's strange because the courts are fast.

"When we started tonight, it felt like there was no pressure in the ball. It's just difficult to hit winners. There was a 70-shot rally yesterday, which is not normal. [We] probably need to look at that."

Kokkinakis was blunter in his assessment, posting on Twitter: "This f****** sport, man."

Murray, a five-time finalist in Melbourne, will face Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, having progressed to that stage of the Australian Open for the first time since 2017.

Andy Murray made a record-breaking fightback in the longest match of his career to beat Thanasi Kokkinakis in an Australian Open thriller in the early hours of Friday morning.

After finding himself two sets down, Murray drew on the fighting spirit he has produced so many times over the years to secure an incredible 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-6( 7-5) 6-3 7-5 win on Margaret Court Arena.

The battling Brit came off the ropes to become he first player in Open era history to win 10 grand slam matches from two sets down.

With the clock having ticked past 4am local time, the 35-year-old finally triumphed in what was the second-longest match (five hours and 45 minutes) in Australian Open history, only beaten by the 2012 final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (five hours and 53 minutes). 

Here, Stats Perform takes a closer look at some of the numbers from Murray's incredible win.

Murray's unbeaten grand slam streak against Australian players continues

Murray's success over Kokkinakis ensured his unbeaten record against Australian opponents at majors remained intact, making it 12 out of 12.

The former world number one has lost all five of his finals at the Australian Open, but he is now into the third round at the tournament for the first time since 2017.

His victory over Kokkinakis made him just the fifth male player in the Open era to win more than 50 main-draw matches at the Australian Open, joining illustrious company in Roger Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Stefan Edberg.

Murray's greater experience shows against big-serving opponent

Kokkinakis seized control of the match by taking the first two sets, but as Murray dragged the contest into the later stages, the Brit's experience in big matches showed.

The 37 aces fired down by Kokkinakis was his highest career tally in an ATP-level main-draw match and 27 more than Murray served up. Kokkinakis racked up an astonishing 102 winners to Murray's impressive 69.

Three-time grand slam champion Murray became just the seventh male player to feature in 250 grand slam main draw matches, roaring back to surpass Todd Martin and Federer for the most major victories from two sets down. It was his first such triumph at the Australian Open.

Murray has now won both meetings with Kokkinakis, after also defeating him in the 2015 Davis Cup, and sets up a third-round clash with Roberto Bautista Agut, with whom he holds a 3-3 head-to-head record.

Andy Murray could scarcely believe he managed to fight from two sets down to topple home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis in five sets at the Australian Open.

In an epic match that began on Thursday but ticked well into the early hours of Friday in Melbourne, Murray prevailed 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5 in the second-longest match in Australian Open history.

With the clock having ticked past 04:00am local time, the five-time finalist finally triumphed to become the first player in Open era history to win 10 grand slam matches having lost the opening two sets.

"I don't know. Unbelievable that I managed to turn that round," said Murray, who has reached the third round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2017.

"Thanasi was serving unbelievable. I don't know how I managed to get through it. Yeah, I have a big heart.

"I'm aware I don't look particularly happy when playing but I'm at my happiest on the inside.

"I've always loved competing and always showed my emotions when I've played. I've been criticised a lot for it over the years but that's who I am."

Finally, in a message to the fans that stuck around at Melbourne Park, Murray said: "Thanks so much to everyone for staying. It's ridiculously late. You didn't need to do that but it really helps me and Thanasi when we have all of you creating an amazing atmosphere. I think we should all get off to bed now."

Kokkinakis was in cruise control when he doubled his lead with a tie-break victory in the second set.

But he then appeared to start feeling the pressure in the third set, smashing his racquet following an angry dispute with the umpire after receiving a time violation.

Taking advantage of his opponent's loss of composure, Murray battled back from 5-2 down to force another tie-break, where Kokkinakis lost four points on his serve as the match was pushed to a fourth set.

Having been one game from defeat, the tide was turning in Murray's favour, as he teed up a decider that had looked so unlikely.

Murray spurned his first seven break points but brilliantly won his eighth attempt with the set tied at five games apiece, putting the former world number one on the verge of a stunning success.

He made no mistake as he clinched victory with a forehand winner, ending the match after five hours and 45 minutes.

Only the 2012 final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (five hours and 53 minutes) beating it in terms of longevity in the tournament's history.

Novak Djokovic described his hamstring injury as "not good at all" after the muscle caused him fresh concern during a second-round win at the Australian Open.

The nine-time Melbourne Park champion needed off-court treatment in set two of his match against French qualifier Enzo Couacaud.

He lost that set, but Djokovic was able to step it up to complete a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-0 victory over the world number 191.

Speaking afterwards, Djokovic was asked about the left hamstring and painted a bleak picture.

He told Eurosport: "It's not good at all, to be honest with you. I take it day to day. It was better last match, the feeling, than tonight.

"It's really up to God to help me, and the physio and everyone. I hope I'll be able to recover and be ready for a tough match-up next match."

Grigor Dimitrov awaits Djokovic in round three, with the Bulgarian a tricky customer, albeit one who trails 9-1 in the rivalry between the pair.

Djokovic's latest win, his 23rd match victory in succession at the Australian Open, was nothing if not eventful, with Couacaud turning his ankle early on and looking in danger of having to abandon the biggest match of his career.

Later on, Djokovic demanded the umpire take action after claiming rowdy fans were distracting him by shouting out.

"There was a lot happening in tonight's match," Djokovic said in an on-court interview.

"Enzo deserves credit for the fight. He played some great tennis, especially in the second set. I managed to respond well in the third and especially in the fourth. Let's keep it going."

Novak Djokovic avoided becoming the latest Australian Open seed to fall as he survived an injury scare to see off French qualifier Enzo Couacaud.

After Casper Ruud, Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz were all sent packing earlier on Thursday, the question was whether Djokovic would become the ultimate casualty on a day of shocks.

The nine-time champion was troubled by his left hamstring problem during the second set, which went the way of world number 191 Couacaud, but Djokovic reasserted himself to secure a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-0 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

The Serbian became increasingly incensed by shouting from the crowd during the match, pinpointing one fan as a chief culprit and telling the umpire during the fourth set: "The guy is drunk out of his mind. I'm asking you what you're you going to do about it. You heard it at least 10 times; I heard it 50 times."

Djokovic appeared to be pointing towards a group in 'Where's Wally?' fancy dress, who were reacting as though they were enjoying the moment before being spoken to by tournament officials.

It was a surprise the match reached a fourth set.

Mauritius-born Couacaud turned his ankle in the fourth game of the contest and retreated to his chair, seemingly in tears as he looked to cover his face with his towel.

The 27-year-old received medical treatment, getting the ankle strapped up, and he gamely battled on, albeit struggling initially.

It was then Djokovic who needed an injury timeout in the second set, going off court when trailing 5-4 and feeling some discomfort in the hamstring that has been troubling him during the last fortnight.

Couacaud took advantage and won the set, but from that point on it became all Djokovic, as he moved through to round three.

Data Slam: Djokovic sets up Dimitrov clash

Next for Djokovic will be a battle with the 27th seed, Grigor Dimitrov. He described the Bulgarian as a good friend and said they were "Balkan brothers". The rivalry on the court has been emphatically one-sided between Djokovic and Dimitrov, though, with nine of their past 10 meetings having gone the way of the Serbian.

Dimitrov's lone win came on clay in Madrid in 2013, while it will be a third grand slam match between the pair, with Djokovic having notched up previous victories at the French Open and Wimbledon.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic– 9/6
Couacaud – 7/2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic– 63/36
Couacaud – 36/32

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic– 7/21
Couacaud – 0/1

Casper Ruud followed Rafael Nadal out of the Australian Open and admitted his decision to play through much of December rather than have an off-season may have been a mistake.

The Norwegian second seed, who reached finals at the French Open and US Open last year, had been hoping for another deep run this fortnight, only to run into an in-form Jenson Brooksby.

After a 6-3 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 defeat in three hours and 55 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, Ruud was asked about his decision to head to Latin America for a lucrative exhibition jaunt with Nadal at the end of the 2022 campaign.

He planned to take a break in February instead, but can now begin that early after going out in round two in Melbourne.

The same goes for top seed Nadal, who was already heading for defeat to Mackenzie MacDonald on Wednesday before an injury compounded his misery.

Ruud's initial reaction to being questioned about his busy December was to be defensive, saying: "It's very easy to sit here now and say that was bad for maybe both Rafa and I due to the fact that we lost early here.

"At the same time, I see no reason why we couldn't have a good Australian Open or made better results down here. I think it's coincidental sometimes."

He spoke of the talent among fellow tour players making every player vulnerable, and the "small margins" between victory and defeat.

Asked whether he had any break at all, Ruud outlined how he left for the Latin America trip on November 21 and returned in early December, before heading off on a week's holiday to the Maldives. He then stopped for a training block in Abu Dhabi on the way home and played two matches at the Mubadala exhibition event.

At the end of this season, Ruud might insist on a longer break and a focused training block.

"It was maybe not enough to be able to perform well here this year," Ruud said. "So it will be considered by me and my team what we will do in December this year, and if this was the right way to prepare for Australian Open or not.

"Maybe it looks like it was not the right way, but there are many factors that come into play. I have done what I felt was the right preparation but wasn't able to perform and win as many matches as I hoped here this year."

Rafael Nadal faces up to eight weeks out of action with the hip flexor injury he sustained on his way out of the Australian Open.

The defending champion and top seed in Melbourne was bundled out 6-4 6-4 7-5 by world number 65 Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday, struggling to move around the court during the closing stages of the contest.

He refused to retire and afterwards confirmed he aggravated an issue he had been suffering with for a couple of days. The 36-year-old Spaniard knew the problem he had been suffering with for a "couple of days" had worsened, but he was unsure exactly what was causing it.

Now Nadal has clarity, receiving details of the injury after tests on Thursday.

He knows that provided all goes to plan, he should be back on court for the clay-court stretch in Europe leading up to the French Open, where the 14-time winner is also the defending champion.

Nadal wrote on Twitter: "Good afternoon. I have carried out medical tests after the defeat yesterday. The MRI shows a grade two lesion in the iliopsoas of the left leg. Now it's sports rest and anti-inflammatory physiotherapy. Normal recovery time six to eight weeks."

The 22-time major winner may struggle to get back to full fitness in time for the Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1000 events in March.

Those are due to be preceded on his schedule by a high-profile exhibition match in Las Vegas against Carlos Alcaraz on March 5; however, both men are presently injured, raising doubts over whether that will go ahead.

Nadal was distraught to suffer yet another injury setback, after severe foot and abdomen problems hit his 2022 season.

"In terms of sports and in terms of injuries and tough moments, I mean, that's another one," Nadal said on Wednesday. "I can't say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying."

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