All eyes on Nadal as he chases four in a row

All eyes on Nadal as he chases four in a row
# 18 January 2011 03:08 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Rafa Nadal begins his quest on Tuesday to become the first man to possess all four major crowns simultaneously since 1969 against Brazil’s Marcos Daniel at the Australian Open, APA reports quoting “Reuters”.
The last time a man held all four grand slam titles, most following tennis on television watched a slower, more serene version of the game in grainy black and white images.
In today’s punishing crash-bang game, to achieve what has proven beyond even the world number one’s arch-rival Roger Federer would be a truly astonishing feat.
Nadal, who has been suffering with a bout of flu, has played down his chances of emulating American Don Budge (1938) and Australia’s Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) in Melbourne.
"It’s almost impossible," insisted the swashbuckling Spaniard. "Most matches are decided by a few balls so it’s very difficult to have one player winning everything."
Nadal famously reduced Federer to tears after beating the Swiss in the 2009 Australian Open final and will expect to make short work of the 93rd-ranked Daniel in the first round.
Last year’s runner-up Andy Murray, seeded fifth, faces a tricky opener against Slovakian Karol Beck but the Briton has been talking up his chances.
"Mentally I’m probably in a better place," said the Scot, who lost to Federer in last year’s final. "I just need to go out and put the improvements I’ve made into practice."
U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters faces fellow former world number one Dinara Safina in the pick of the women’s matches.
Safina, younger sister of former Melbourne favorite "Big Red" Marat Safin, has slumped outside the top 50 since reaching the top in April 2009 due to injury and a crisis of confidence.
Three-times grand slam winner Clijsters, formerly dubbed "Aussie Kim" during her romance with Lleyton Hewitt, should have too much firepower for the brittle Russian.
Serbians Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, both former number ones, also begin their campaigns.
Local favorite Samantha Stosur, who reached the final at last year’s French Open, follows Nadal on to center court where the fifth seed faces American Lauren Davis.
Home fans will also give Hewitt plenty of vocal support, although the former world number one will have his hands full against Argentina’s David Nalbandian.
Sweden’s gentle giant Robin Soderling will look to underline his championship credentials against Italian Potito Starace.
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