Rafael Nadal opened his hotly anticipated Australian Open campaign with a ruthless dispatch of an ailing Brazilian journeyman on Tuesday, setting the tone for a day of pitifully one-sided contests at Melbourne Park.
A second Australian Open title would make Nadal the first man in more than four decades to hold the quartet of grand slam titles at the same time, and his first step was taken with single-minded purpose.
Brazilian Marcos Daniel mustered up just 12 points in 46 minutes before he decided his injured left knee, and possibly his pride, could take no more and he called an end to the contest with Nadal leading 6-0 5-0.
The world number one knows very well the pain of injury having hobbled out of Melbourne Park in the quarter-finals when his own knees gave up on him last year, and he was full of sympathy for his 32-year-old opponent.
The short contest left Nadal, who was struggling with flu in the run up to the tournament, with little better idea of the level of his game.
Like Nadal, Andy Murray’s passage was eased by a retirement when Slovakia’s Karol Beck quit with the fifth seed 6-3 6-1 4-2.
Robin Soderling, who leapfrogged Murray into the fourth seed position courtesy of his title win in the Brisbane warm-up, cruised through his first round encounter with Potito Starace 6-4 6-2 6-2.
Vera Zvonareva, the number two women’s seed rattled off a 6-2 6-1 victory over Austria’s Sybille Bammer in the opening match on a cool and blustery Rod Laver Arena.
In the absence of injured 2010 champion Serena Williams, Australian hopes are high that Sam Stosur can break a three-decades drought without a local champion.
The fifth seed could not have done much better on Tuesday than her 6-1 6-1 drubbing of American wild card and grand slam debutant Lauren Davis in another mismatch on centre court.
Ekaterina Makarova outlasted another former number one, Serbian Ana Ivanovic, 3-6 6-4 10-8 in a 167-minute contest.
Wild card Bernard Tomic gave the locals plenty to cheer about with his 6-3 6-2 7-6 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.