By Erik Gudris/Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Rafael Nadal advanced after his first round opponent Bernard Tomic retired due to injury in their opening round match in Melbourne.
Photo Credit: AP
Though billed as a must-see match, injury marred the first round meeting between top seed Rafael Nadal and Australia's Bernard Tomic at the Australian Open.
During the opening game, Tomic appeared to deal with a groin injury that slowed his movement at times. At 2-1, Tomic left the court to take a medical time out.
After returning, Tomic appeared to play through pain as he grimaced often after points. Though he displayed flashes of solid tennis, it wasn't enough to stop Nadal. The world No. 1 broke Tomic's serve to go up 5-4 after Tomic netted a wayward slice backhand.
A game later, Nadal closed out the set 6-4.
It was just after that Tomic decided he had enough and retired from the match. Saying "Sorry" to the crowd, Tomic walked off Rod Laver Arena to a mixture of cheers and boos.
The abrupt end to the match punctuated a long day filed with player injuries and retirements, some brought about by excessive heat of well over 100 degrees.
"I felt really sorry for Bernard. I was in that situation a few years ago and I know how tough is to take that decision. But if you feel bad, there is no reason why you have to continue. You put in risk the next tournaments for nothing," Nadal said afterwards.
Tomic confirmed later that he first felt the injury the day before his match. He expressed disappointment at having to retire.
"It was sad. It's unfortunate. You know, this opportunity I had to play against Rafa was huge for me. Could have used a lot of it," Tomic said. "Unfortunately, I couldn't compete. It was very difficult for me to say sorry to the crowd. I don't think they quite knew what was wrong with me. After, when I told them it was my leg, they sort of started to be on my side, which is good that I heard that in the end from their applause."
Nadal will next play in the second round another young Australian in Thanasi Kokkinakis.