Australian Open 2021 - Rafael Nadal back injury ‘not great’ but Spaniard taking it ‘day by day'
Rafael Nadal did not play the ATP Cup last week with back issues, but the Spaniard came through his Australian Open first-round encounter unscathed on Tuesday, beating Laslo Djere 6-3 6-4 6-1. The 2009 winner said his problems have not gone, but he hopes a rest day on Wednesday will help his bid for a second title in Melbourne.
Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts after a point against Serbia's Laslo Djere during their men's singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 9
“I don't know, my back is not perfect, as I said a couple of days ago,” Nadal said. “Every day that I am able to go through, probably there are more chances to get better. That's the thing now.
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“So there is always a chance to improve. And that's why I'm here, playing and fighting to try to get better and then give myself a chance. So, today is not great - I needed to change a little bit of movement on my serve. That's what I tried to survive with the conditions today.
“Tomorrow, a day off. After tomorrow, another match. So I need to go day by day to day and just try to stay positive.”
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Nadal added: “I was able to win in straight sets so it's always a positive start for me. Always difficult to play tennis after a while, you know, play in a competition match after a while. Good start. I'm happy.”
Eurosport expert Alex Corretja said he was impressed with Nadal’s level of performance.
"I wasn’t sure which Rafa to expect because we haven’t seen him play for so long,” he said.
Nadal tries to save stricken butterfly during match
"I was very impressed by the fact he was playing very aggressive from the very beginning, trying to shorten the points and rallies. He played flatter than normally, the court is playing quite fast and that’s why he is trying to play flatter.
"It was a good match for Rafa to have to get that feeling of being back on court – he hasn’t played any official match this year, he didn’t play the ATP Cup last week due to the back injury so he needed this kind of feeling on court. I think he should be very pleased with this performance."