Rafael Nadal was “mentally shattered” after losing in the second round.

Injured Rafael Nadal’s championship defense at the Australian Open was ended in the second round, and he now claims to be “mentally destroyed.”

Spaniard Nadal struggled with a left hip problem as he fell to a 6-4 6-3 7-5 defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald.

The 36-year-old said he was carrying the injury before the match but the pain had been “nothing like today”.

“I really hope that it doesn’t put me out of the court for a long time,” Nadal said.

“It’s not only the recovery. It’s all the amount of work that you need to put together to come back at a decent level.

“I went through this process too many times in my career, and I am ready to keep doing it. I think, but that’s not easy.”

Speaking at his post-match news conference, 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal said he felt he “cannot move” after his earliest exit at a Grand Slam since the 2016 Australian Open, when he was eliminated in the first round.

“[I] just can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying,” he said.

“Hopefully, it is nothing too bad. In the end [there] have been three positive weeks in terms of practice.”

When he pulled up with the injury, Nadal was down by a set and a break. He had a medical break at the conclusion of the second set before resuming.

He claimed that despite frequently considering retiring, he “didn’t want to leave the court with a retirement.”

“Just try your best until the end,” added Nadal, who won his second Melbourne title 12 months ago. “It doesn’t matter the chances that you have. That’s the philosophy of the sport.

“That’s the essence of the sport by itself. I tried to follow that during all my tennis career, and I tried of course to not increase the damage, because I didn’t know what’s going on.”

This is the most recent in a string of health issues for Nadal, who acknowledged last year that painkiller injections for the longstanding condition caused him to lose feeling in his left foot during his victory at the French Open.

With an abdominal ailment he sustained in the previous round, he withdrew from his Wimbledon semifinal as well last year. The same injury also hindered him at the US Open, when he lost to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round and appeared to hurt a rib.

In spite of the setbacks from injuries, he claimed that his passion for the sport kept him going.

“It’s a very simple thing: I like what I do,” he said. “I like playing tennis. I know it’s not forever. I like to feel myself competitive. I like to fight for the things that I have been fighting for almost half of my life or even more.

“When you do things that you like to do, at the end of the day, it’s not a sacrifice.

“Sacrifice is when you are doing things that you don’t want to do. And that was not my case. But of course it’s tiring and frustrating to [spend] a lot of my tennis career on recovering process and trying to fight against all this stuff all the time.

“But I accept it quite well during all my tennis career, and I was able to manage it well. But of course [the] last seven months have been, again, another tough period of time. I don’t know what can happen in the future.”