Rafael Nadal tamped down expectations on Saturday that his Australian Open back pain saga will just fade away.

After defeating plucky Brit Cam Norrie 7-5, 6-2, 7-5, the second seed played down hopes that his injury problems are well on the mend.

“The back was not getting better each day – it was getting better today,” he said after reaching the fourth round.

“Today it’s better, It’s the first day I feel an improvement, and that’s the most important thing for me.”

With a Monday showdown against longtime Italian rival Fabio Fognini up next, Nadal is proceeding with caution, with serving his major concern.

“I need to come back to my normal serving. I was serving quite well, but not using my normal serve for the last 15 days. 

“Today is the first day that I started to (use) my normal serve. I can do better, I think… I’m looking forward to do it (serve) better.”

Nadal called his win over Norrie “an important victory for me.”

“The biggest win is that my back is better for the first (time) time, that’s the most important thing.”

Rafael Nadal was unable to serve freely during his third round victory by -Tennis Australia/ ROB PREZIOSO


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