Tomic booed as he limps out of clash with Nadal

Local hope calls it quits after one set, complaining of a thigh injury in first-round match against world number one at Australian Open

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 January, 2014, 10:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 January, 2014, 10:19pm

Australia's Bernard Tomic was jeered by the crowd at his home grand slam when he retired injured after losing the opening set of his first-round match 6-4 against world number one Rafael Nadal on Tuesday.

Tomic, who has been criticised in the past for "tanking" - or deliberately not playing to his full ability during matches - had appeared uncomfortable from the outset at the Rod Laver Arena, and he took a medical timeout at the change of ends when leading 2-1.

The 21-year-old later ripped a bandage off his high left thigh at the urging off his camp and played out the set appearing restricted and grimacing after points.

With the set lost, Tomic returned to his chair and shook his head at medical staff, saying: "I can't do it."

I feel really sorry for Bernard. I was in that situation [before]. There's no reason you have to continue [if injured]
Rafael Nadal

After walking over to tell the 13-times grand slam champion that he would no longer be able to go on, sections of the crowd booed the 57th-ranked Australian, who was kicked out of the nation's Davis Cup team in 2012 for attitude problems, but then later reinstated.

Top seed Nadal, who will play 17-year-old Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round, sympathised with Tomic, whose coach and father John has been banned from the tournament after being convicted of assaulting his son's former hitting partner Thomas Drouet.

"I just want to say for Bernard, I hope he really gets better very soon," said Nadal, who retired hurt during the 2010 tournament when trailing Briton Andy Murray.

"It's very tough to go out in a tournament like this at home," he said. "I feel really sorry for Bernard. I was in that situation [before]. There's no reason you have to continue [if injured]."

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray surprised himself as he showed no signs of rustiness in confidently dispatching Japan's Go Soeda 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in his first-round match.

Four months after having back surgery, the three-times Australian Open runner-up cruised to victory over his 112-ranked opponent in 85 dominant minutes on Hisense Arena.

Having played only two competitive matches in the build-up, Murray was worried that he might be undercooked but he was rarely troubled.

"I played well today," fourth seed Murray said. "Maybe didn't expect to play as well as I did today, but the signs have been good in practice. I started the match off very well and did everything solid."

Murray decided to have surgery on his back after 18 months of playing through pain and said he felt much freer on court against Soeda.

"Not every shot hurt my back before but on certain shots I'm a lot freer in the movement just now," he said. "I hope that continues.

"That was the whole point of having the surgery. So if I was still in pain and stiff and sore then I'd be a bit worried about the next few years.

"But I'm hoping it was the right decision. I felt freer today than I did for the last 18 months.

Murray was relieved that his match - the second of the day on the show court at Melbourne Park - was played largely out of the sunlight.

"I was a bit nervous before the match but obviously when the shadow comes across the court it cooled down a little bit," he said. "Still, the air is extremely warm. I was glad to get off quickly."

While Roger Federer and Murray spent mercifully little time on the boiling courts, Lleyton Hewitt bowed out in a five-set thriller.

Fiercely competitive Hewitt will not join the two superstars in the second round after going down 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 7-5 to Italian 24th seed Andreas Seppi in a draining four hours and 18 minutes.

Elsewhere on a testing day at Melbourne Park, former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro came from a set down to oust American Rhyne Williams.

Japan's Kei Nishikori was taken to five sapping sets with Australian Marinko Matosevic before advancing, and former Australian finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga brushed aside Italian Filippo Volandri in straight sets.

Czech veteran Radek Stepanek was a casualty after being forced out with a neck injury.