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.
Nadal will play either Daniel Gimeno-Traver or 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 Andy 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.”
The Spaniard’s arch-rival Roger Federer 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 win. 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.