History-chasing Nadal gifted a victory

Updated: 2011-01-19 07:57

(China Daily)

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MELBOURNE - Top seed Rafael Nadal was handed an easy route to the Australian Open second round on Tuesday 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 when Brazilian journeyman Daniel, 32, threw in the towel after being troubled by a left knee problem.

Andy Murray went through in similar circumstances when Slovakia's Karol Beck retired with a shoulder problem with the Briton leading 6-3, 6-1, 4-2.

 History-chasing Nadal gifted a victory

Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a forehand during his first-round men's match against Marcos Daniel of Brazil on Tuesday. William West / AFP

Swedish fourth seed Robin Soderling beat Italy's Potito Starace in straight sets and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro enjoyed a successful return to Grand Slam tennis after being injured for most of last year.

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, forced out of last year's quarter-final against Murray 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, Murray, last year's runner-up and the world No 5, was cruising when Beck gave in to a serving shoulder problem.

"Obviously you'd rather finish the match off without your opponent being hurt," Murray said. "But it does happen quite a lot. So you just have to move on and get yourself ready for the next round."

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.

Meanwhile, in-form Soderling eased past Starace 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, raising hopes of another rousing run after reaching at least the quarterfinals at the past three Grand Slams.

And Argentina's del Potro, who has barely played since last year's Open following wrist surgery, overcame Israel's Dudi Sela, 7-6 (13) 6-4, 6-4 to help banish a nightmare 2010.

"I feel good with my wrist," he said. "I need time, I need matches, I need sets, I need hours on the court. Then in the future, I will be better."

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 01/19/2011 page24)


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