Tue, January 18, 2011
Sports > Tennis & Golf

History-chasing Nadal 'gifted' Australian Open win

2011-01-18 06:48:48 GMT2011-01-18 14:48:48(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Rafael Nadal of Spain serves during his first round men's singles match against Marcos Daniel of Brazil on the second day of the Australian Open tournament in Melbourne, on January 18. Nadal was leading 6-0, 5-0 when Daniel retired with an injured knee. (AFP)

MELBOURNE – Top seed Rafael Nadal was handed an easy route to the Australian Open second round when Marcos Daniel retired hurt, putting him a step closer to a historic fourth successive Grand Slam win.

The French Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion was leading 6-0, 5-0 on Tuesday when Brazilian journeyman Daniel, 32, threw in the towel after being troubled by a left knee problem.

Britain's Andy Murray went through in similar circumstances when Slovakia's Karol Beck retired with a shoulder problem midway through their third set. Murray was leading 6-3, 6-1, 4-2.

Nadal will play American qualifier Ryan Sweeting next as he targets the "Rafa Slam" -- the first time one man has held all four major titles since Rod Laver in 1969.

The Spaniard, who retired hurt from his quarter-final against Murray here last year with a knee injury, said the disconsolate Daniel would be feeling "terrible".

"It's a terrible feeling to pull out of a match with an injury and I wish him all the best and a fast recovery," said Nadal. "If you are feeling bad you should not go on and it's best for the recovery."

Nadal's arch-rival Roger Federer had enjoyed a convincing start to his title defence on Monday and 2008 champion Novak Djokovic was also in menacing form in his opening match.

On Tuesday, second seed Vera Zvonareva put down a marker in the wide-open women's draw with a straightforward 6-2, 6-1 win over Sybille Bammer.

Zvonareva is seeking her third consecutive Grand Slam final and her first major victory. Last year's winner and five-time champion Serena Williams is out after cutting her foot on glass in a restaurant.

"I think we both struggled with the rhythm out there but the most important thing is I got through this match and I'm looking forward to the next one," Zvonareva said.

Australian fifth seed Samantha Stosur crushed American wildcard Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1 in just 53 minutes to raise local hopes she will reach another Grand Slam final, after last year's French Open.

And former world number one Jelena Jankovic, seeded seventh, ended a six-match losing streak as she went through 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) against Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia.

In the men's draw, there were wins for Croatian 15th seed Marin Cilic and Russian world number 10 Mikhail Youzhny, while Australian wildcard Bernard Tomic beat Jeremy Chardy of France in straight sets.

Women's favourite Kim Clijsters takes to the court against Russian former number one Dinara Safina later, while Australia's two-time major winner Lleyton Hewitt faces long-time foe David Nalbandian.

Their bitter rivalry, which stretches back to junior days, includes a bad-tempered quarter-final here in 2005 and the 2002 Wimbledon final, which Hewitt won in straight sets.

Clijsters is looking to add the Australian Open to her US Open title as she continues to dominate women's tennis despite a lengthy break to give birth to her daughter, Jada.

World number five Murray is searching for Britain's first Grand Slam title since 1936, after being beaten by Federer in last year's final here and the 2008 US Open decider.

(Agencies)

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