Rafael Nadal shrugged off any back issues with a good start to his Australian Open campaign defeating Laslo Djere 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
Nadal missed all three match last week at the ATP Cup due to a back injury which didn’t hamper the 20-time Spaniard in his efficient win. The 34-year-old’s serve speed was down a little, but the groundstrokes were humming.
“It’s been a tough 15 days for me, because I had some issues with the back. I needed to survive today, and that’s what I did,” Nadal said. “I just tried to be focussed all the time, tried to get through.
“My back is not perfect, as I said a couple of days ago. Every day that I’m able to go through, probably there are more chances to get better. That’s the thing now. 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.
“Today it’s not great. I needed to change a little bit the motion of my serve. That’s what I tried to survive that condition today. Tomorrow a day off. After tomorrow, another match. I need to go day-to-day and just try to stay positive. Of course every day that I am trying to stay here longer is a day with a chance to get better finally, so that’s what I am trying. Trying to do all the things possible to be ready for compete, for what I came here.”
Nadal should be good in the next round against American qualifier Michael Mmoh who won in five sets over Viktor Troicki.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who could meet Rafa next week in the quarters, looked strong with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 win over French veteran Gilles Simon.
“Starting a Grand Slam can be stressful sometimes. You don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what shape you are,” said Tsitsipas. “I played a few matches at the ATP Cup. It doesn’t really determine if I am top shape. I felt like I needed more matches.
“The more matches I get, I think contributes a lot to my confidence and I think confidence has made me win a lot of matches. Without it, I don’t know where I would be. I see as something that I need, as an additive to my game and something that is going to contribute to a lot of important victories for my career.”
The Russians continued to have a great start to 2021. Daniil Medvedev upped his win streak to 15 by cruising past Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.
“Vasek can play really good tennis,” Medvedev said. “He just told me after the match he wasn’t able to have the best preparation because of hard quarantine, and he also hurt his back for a few days.
“I was lucky in this way, but I knew I had to go out here and win this match, because it’s my job.”
Andrey Rublev kept pace with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Yannick Hanfmann. And Karen Khachanov needed four sets to put away Aleksandar Vukic.
Matteo Berrettini and Borna Coric were also winners on Tuesday. David Goffin, Roberto Bautista Agut, Dan Evans, Hubert Hurkacz and Tennys Sandgren were eliminated.
On Wednesday, Novak Djokovic returns to face former quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe. Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Stan Wawrinka also see action plus Australian bad boys Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic are on court. Tomic faces Denis Shapovalov.
WEDNESDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
ANDREESCU, Bianca (CAN)  vs. HSIEH, Su-Wei (TPE)
Not before: 1:00 PM
STOJANOVIC, Nina (SRB) vs. WILLIAMS, Serena (USA) 
DJOKOVIC, Novak (SRB)  vs. TIAFOE, Frances (USA)
GARCIA, Caroline (FRA) vs. OSAKA, Naomi (JPN) 
CRESSY, Maxime (USA) vs. ZVEREV, Alexander (GER) 
Margaret Court Arena – 11:00 AM
SABALENKA, Aryna (BLR)  vs. KASATKINA, Daria (RUS)
CIRSTEA, Sorana (ROU) vs. KVITOVA, Petra (CZE) 
THIEM, Dominic (AUT)  vs. KOEPFER, Dominik (GER)
TOMLJANOVIC, Ajla (AUS) vs. HALEP, Simona (ROU) 
DIMITROV, Grigor (BUL)  vs. BOLT, Alex (AUS)
You Might Like:
Federer Breezes In Basel Opener; Wawrinka v Tiafoe Thurs.
Zverev Wins Beijing Opener Over Zverev, Murray v Berrettini Tuesday
American Tiafoe Wins 1st Career Title at ATP Delray Beach
Frances Tiafoe: Oh My God I’m Going To Play Federer!
U.S. Comes From Behind to Defeat Russia, Gain Fed Cup Final