Rafael Nadal cruises past Laslo Djere despite back injury

Rafael Nadal yesterday said his back is still "not great", despite opening his campaign for a record 21st Grand Slam title with a routine win in the Australian Open yesterday.

The world No. 2 pulled out of the ATP Cup last week with the niggle. He motored through his first-round clash against valiant Serb Laslo Djere with little drama, racing to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 win under blue skies on Rod Laver Arena, but admitted he was still struggling.

"My back is not perfect, as I said a couple of days ago," said the Spaniard, whose only appearance this year had been an exhibition against Dominic Thiem in Adelaide 12 days ago, when he first experienced stiffness in his back.

"Every day that I'm able to go through, probably there are more chances to be 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."

The injury forced him to make changes in his service action against Djere, who didn't have the weapons to trouble the second seed.

"Today it's not great. I needed to change a little bit the motion of my serve," he said.

"I need to go day-to-day and just try to stay positive. I'm trying to do all the things possible to be ready to compete - that's what I came here for." - AFP