Showing few signs of rust, Rafael Nadal enjoyed a straight-sets victory on Tuesday to progress to the second round at Australian Open 2021 – the first step in his quest for a men's record 21st Grand Slam singles title.
Nadal was a 6-3 6-4 6-1 winner over Serb Laslo Djere in his first competitive outing of the season, the result setting up a meeting with either Michael Mmoh or Viktor Troicki, both qualifiers.
There was concern with how the world No.2 would fare in his AO campaign, given he was forced to skip the ATP Cup.
“For the last 15 days I have been suffering with the back,” he revealed on the eve of the tournament. Muscle tightness had made it difficult for him to play “with freedom of movement”.
Yet when he walked into Rod Laver Arena for his first-round clash with Djere and began competing, he thankfully appeared unimpeded.