MELBOURNE, Australia – Rafael Nadal’s quest to complete his “Rafa Slam” at the Australian Open started with a first-round victory that lasted only 11 games and certainly helped him conserve plenty of energy.
The No. 1-ranked Nadal went straight to the practice courts and worked on his serve, later saying it needs work to improve his chances of winning the Australian title..
The 24-year-old Spaniard led 6-0, 5-0 when Marcos Daniel retired with a left knee injury on Tuesday.
He sympathized with Daniel, recalling he’d had to retire from the last Australian Open with an injured knee in a quarterfinal loss to Andy Murray. But Nadal recovered quickly and won the next three majors and is now aiming to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam trophies at the same time.
“It’s a terrible feeling, for sure. I wish him all the best for a fast recovery,” Nadal said after the match. “Last year was a really difficult time when I played this tournament. I came back here playing well … but to go out like that was hard mentally.
“Finally, I had a very good season in 2010.”
Good season is the understatement of the tournament. Nadal won the French Open, then Wimbledon and finally claimed his first U.S. Open title. With Tuesday’s victory, he’s now on a roll of 22 consecutive match wins in Grand Slam tournaments.
Also advancing were Sam Stosur, the fifth-seeded Australian beating American wild-card entry Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1; No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanskaheld off Japanese veteran Kimiko Date Krumm 6-4, 4-6, 7-5; No. 7 Jelena Jankovic; No. 25 Petra Kvitova, Vera Zvonareva and China’s Peng Shuai.
On the men’s side, No. 15 Marin Cilic of Croatia beat American qualifier Donald Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 to advance along with No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny, No. 11 Jurgan Melzer, No. 31 Feliciano Lopez and No. 32 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Defending champion Federer dismantled Lukas Lacko 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 and Novak Djokovic soundly beat Marcus Granollers 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.
Eighth-seeded American Andy Roddick had a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Jan Hajek, while his U.S. Davis Cup teammates had a tougher time, with Mardy Fish coming back from two sets down to win in five for the first time in his career and Sam Querrey losing in a five-setter.
Caroline Wozniacki started her first major tournament as the No. 1-ranked woman with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Argentina’s Gisela Dulko, while fourth-seeded Venus Williams advanced 6-3, 6-2 over Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-2.