World number two Rafael Nadal powered through to the second round at the 2021 Australian Open with a straightforward win over Laslo Djere.
Nadal, who won his only title at Melbourne Park back in 2009, won through 6-3 6-4 6-1 to ensure his comfortable progression.
There had been concerns about the Spaniard’s back problems coming into the match, but he came through in impressive fashion nonetheless.
Despite coming up second best, by far the best shot of the match came from Djere, who unleashed an incredible down-the-line winner which was almost cross-court, such was the improbable angle.
“He [Nadal] played incredibly aggressively and it was a really good showing,” was Eurosport expert Mats Wilander’s verdict after the match.
“His play has been extremely aggressive and he is shortening the points.”
Wilander also noted that Nadal’s huge, flat backhand was even more destructive than his famously powerful forehand – “the first time I’ve seen that.”
Nadal will next take on either Serbia’s Viktor Troicki or Michael Mmoh in the second round and he did not hide his concerns with his back after the match.
“A tough 15 days for me because I had some issues with my back so the aim was to survive today, and I did,” Nadal said post-match.
“The aim was to be focused all the time and to get through. I wish him all the best for all of the season. He has a great story and I wish him the best of luck. I am happy to be through to the second round. I did a good job today I think. In straight sets that’s what I hoped.
“I am here to try my best. I can’t say much more. Lets go day by day. Today I was able to find a way to get through. It was not ideal preparation for me but I still like it and I’m enjoying being in this amazing country again. I just want to be here as long as possible.
“We are facing challenging times in the world so every player needs the crowd and this amazing atmosphere that the crowd produces but it’s time to be responsible too at the same time, take care of each other. “
“Tennis is an important part of our lives but we are facing a more important thing today so we need to think about this stuff.”