BREAKING! 2021 Australian Open: Nadal off to a flying start Down Under

Rafael Nadal’s chase for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title is off to a good start.

The World No. 2 defeated Serbian Laslo Djere 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the second round of the Australian Open. The legendary lefty will play one of two qualifiers — Michael Mmoh or Viktor Troicki — in the second round.

“I’m happy to be through to the second round. I think I did a good job today,” Nadal said in his on-court interview. “Straight sets, that’s what I needed.”

The Spaniard did not compete in the ATP Cup due to injury. But Nadal put in a solid performance against the World No. 56 to advance after one hour and 51 minutes.

“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.”

Nadal did not play overly aggressive, but he did enough from the baseline to keep Djere on the back foot. The second seed saved four of the five break points he faced, and as the match wore on, he began to let loose with his forehand a bit more.

The 2009 champion was never in jeopardy. The Serbian at times fired his forehand, and he hit more winners than Nadal by a 20-19 margin, but Djere didn’t have the weapons to throw the lefty off his game.

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