Nadal, Soderling advance

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

MELBOURNE, Australia -- World No. 1 superstar Rafael Nadal was off the court in a mere 47 minutes in his opening match Tuesday at the 2011 Australian Open.

The reigning U.S. Open, Wimbledon and French Open champion was leading Marcos Daniel 6-0, 5-0 when his Brazilian counterpart retired with a left knee injury. Daniel was limping around the court throughout the mismatch and had his knee wrapped at one point, to no avail. The opening set flew by in only 19 minutes.

Nadal was forced to retire from a quarterfinal match against Andy Murray here a year ago because of a knee injury of his own.

The 24-year-old Nadal, who captured his lone Aussie Open championship here in 2009 by beating Roger Federer in the finale at Melbourne Park, is trying to become the first man in 42 years to capture four consecutive Grand Slam titles. Aussie legend Rod Laver won all four majors, for a true Grand Slam, way back in 1969. Laver also captured all four Slams in the same year in 1962.

Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Swede Robin Soderling eased into the second round with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Italian Potito Starace.

A fifth-seeded Murray advanced when his opponent, Slovakia's Karol Beck, retired with a shoulder injury in the third set of their opening-round match. Murray, who was leading 6-3, 6-1, 4-2, lost to Federer in the final here last year.

In other action involving top-16 performers, seventh-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer topped Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, 10th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny got past Turkey's Marsel Ilhan 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 11th-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer mauled Frenchman Vincent Millot 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, and 15th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic leveled once-promising American Michael Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.

The Russian Youzhny was a U.S. Open semifinalist back in September, while Melzer landed in the 2010 French Open semis and Cilic reached the final four here in Melbourne a year ago.

Additional seeded winners were No. 20 American John Isner, No. 21 Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, No. 30 Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, No. 31 Spaniard Feliciano Lopez and No. 32 Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

German Benjamin Becker knocked out 24th-seeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis in straight sets.


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