Rafael Nadal
Spain's Nadal reacts during his single match against Roddick of the US at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Reuters

Rafa Nadal opened his Australian Open campaign with a nasty, brutish and quick demolition of Marcos Daniel on Tuesday that ended after 46 minutes when the Brazilian journeyman retired injured.

A second title at Melbourne Park 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 a ruthless purpose.

Daniel mustered up just 12 points without a single winner before he decided his injured left knee, and possibly his pride, could take no more and he called an end to the contest with the world number one leading 6-0 5-0.

Nadal 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.

He tried his best during the match, said the Spaniard. He didn't want to retire. That says a lot for him. Not everybody's able to do this. So all the respect to him.

Such a short, one-sided contest left top seed Nadal with little better idea of the level of his game.

It's difficult to say I played really well or I played bad, he added. I think I played right. I played some good shots, some long shots. The serve can be a little bit better. Yeah, that's the only point that I think I can improve.

Vera Zvonareva was the latest top seed to proceed smoothly through to the second round in a women's draw so far devoid of upsets.

The number two seed, a tearful losing finalist at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, 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.

I'm just enjoying playing here, said the Russian. Hopefully this kind of atmosphere can help me to feel great on the court and help me to bring the best tennis out of myself.

If I do, I believe I can beat anyone on the other side of the net.

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 a third mismatch on centre court.

I think at the end of the day you've got to just take it for what it was, said a matter-of-fact Stosur. I can walk off the court saying I hit the ball well, felt good, and moved well.

That's the day it was.

Wild card Bernard Tomic also gave the locals plenty to cheer about in his 6-3 6-2 7-6 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, and Lleyton Hewitt will be able to count on similar vocal support when he takes on David Nalbandian in the evening session.

Mikhail Youzhny, the Russian men's 10th seed, handed out a straightforward 6-2 6-3 7-6 thumping to Turk Marsel Ilhan, while Croat Marin Cilic, who reached the semi-finals here last year, routed American Donald Young 6-3 6-2 6-1.

Hewitt's former girlfriend Kim Clijsters, one of the favourites for the women's crown, also plays her opening match against another former world number one, Dinara Safina, later on Tuesday.