MELBOURNE, Australia Rafael Nadals 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 hed 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 now is aiming to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam trophies at the same time.
Its 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.
Daniel had a medical time out at the end of the first set and had his left knee heavily strapped. He said hed injured his knee earlier in the week in practice but thought it would get him through the match.
He said playing Nadal on center court made it more difficult.
Thats the hardest part. In the beginning I was feeling embarrassed a little bit, he said. I tried to play the game; it didnt work. It looks like Im 75 years old.
When the Brazilian had a break point in the second game of the second set, he raised both arms and received a rousing cheer from the crowd. When Nadal had a rare miss with a wild overhead that sailed over the baseline to give the Brazilian a second breakpoint chance, the crowd went wild again.
Nadal finally held after the game went to deuce five times, and it progressively seemed only a matter of time before Daniel would retire as he limped around.
Australian wild-card entry Bernard Tomic advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Jeremy Chardy of France. He is a potential third-round opponent for Nadal.
Hoping a third time will be luckier, Vera Zvonareva began her bid to reach a third consecutive Grand Slam final with a commanding 6-2, 6-1 win over Sybille Bammer in the opening match Tuesday on Rod Laver Arena.
Zvonareva, who lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final and to Kim Clijsters in the U.S. Open final last year, dominated the first set against the 30-year-old Bammer and tightened her grip on the match in the second. She conceded only four points in the first four games of the second set and didnt allow the Austrian to hold until the sixth game..
Also advancing were French Open finalist Sam Stosur, the fifth-seeded Australian, beating American wild-card entry Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1; No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska, who took six of the last seven games after a medical timeout in the third set to hold off Japanese veteran Kimiko Date Krumm 6-4, 4-6, 7-5; No. 7 Jelena Jankovic; No. 25 Petra Kvitova and Chinas Peng Shuai.
On the mens 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.
Nadals easy run to the second round came the day after his chief rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic got their campaigns started with straight-sets wins.
Defending champion Federer dismantled Lukas Lacko 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 and Djokovic soundly beat Marcus Granollers 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.