Nadal to face Daniel in first round at Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Australia — Rafael Nadal will begin his quest for a "Rafa Slam" with a first-round match against Marcos Daniel of Brazil at the Australian Open.
The tournament draw today put Nadal in the top half along with Andy Murray and Robin Soderling, providing tough potential opponents en route to a possible final against No. 2 seed Roger Federer. Third-seeded Novak Djokovic and Federer are both in the bottom half of the draw.
Nadal is bidding to become the first man in 42 years to win four straight Grand Slam tournaments. He won 2010 titles at the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open.
In a match involving the 2002 Wimbledon finalists, unseeded Lleyton Hewitt will take on David Nalbandian in the first round. Hewitt beat Nalbandian that year.
At Auckland, New Zealand, David Ferrer will play David Nalbandian in the final of the Heineken Open after both won their semifinal matches in straight sets.
The top-seeded Ferrer of Spain beat unseeded Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-3, 7-5 to reach Saturday's final.
Nalbandian beat Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-2. The second-seeded Almagro, playing with a bandaged right index finger, competed strongly in the first set until he needed a medical time out to get his right foot attended to by a courtside trainer.
At Sydney, Kim Clijsters rallied from a break down in the deciding set to beat Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1) to reach the Sydney International final.
The U.S. Open champion will play Li Na of China, who beat Bojana Jovanovski 7-6 (5), 6-3.
In the men's draw, Gilles Simon advanced to the semifinals by beating Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-4, 6-3. Simon's victory set up a meeting with third-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who beat Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4.
Florian Mayer of Germany will play Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the other semifinal. Mayer beat Potito Starace of Italy 6-4, 6-1, and Troicki defeated Richard Gasquet of France 6-4, 6-4.
Simon and Dolgopolov both earned their places in the quarterfinals after completing rain-delayed first round matches Wednesday morning, then returning to the court for second round matches in the afternoon.