Rafa Nadal eased concerns over his injured back as he made a fast start to his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
On a day when women’s champion Sofia Kenin also went through, but two-time winner Victoria Azarenka lost after breathing problems, Nadal appeared untroubled in his first match of the year.
The Spanish great, who pulled out of last year’s ATP Cup with back problems, beat Serbia’s Laslo Djere 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 in one hour and 52 minutes on a sun-kissed Rod Laver Arena.
There were mixed fortunes for South Africa, as Kevin Anderson crashed out in the first round, losing to ninth-seed Frederico Berrettini 7-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Capetonian Lloyd Harris came from a set down to beat Mikael Torpegaard 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and set up a clash with Aussie wild card Alexei Popyrin in the next round.
US Open 2019 finalist Russia’s Daniil Medvedev extended his winning streak to 15 matches with an emphatic 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.
Russian seventh seed Andrey Rublev also continued his unbeaten start to the year with a straight-sets win over German Yannick Hanfmann 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
Women’s champion Kenin was less convincing and she audibly vented her frustrations during her 7-5, 6-4 win against Australian Maddison Inglis, who is ranked outside the top 100.
Two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza, who was stunned by Kenin in last year's final, had little trouble beating Russia's Margarita Gasparyan 6-4, 6-0.
Aussie World No.1 Ashleigh Barty blanked Macedonia’s Danka Kovinic 6-0, 6-0 in her opener.