Nadal’s knee ‘much better’

Rafael Nadal claims his knee is “much better” after moving safely into the third round of the Australian Open.

The Spanish second seed heard the right joint “crack” on the eve of the tournament on Sunday, leaving him in “unbelievable pain”.

He feared he would have to withdraw from the tournament but he has now come through his opening two matches – Tommy Haas being dismissed in straight sets on Wednesday – and is much happier with his body now.

“It is much better and I am so happy the knee is improving and I am able to play without pain,” he said after a 6-4 6-3 6-4 victory on the Rod Laver Arena.

Reflecting on a good workout, he added: “I don’t know if it was the perfect match but I won in three sets.

“It was positive but not that demanding (physically). We didn’t play for four or five hours.”

Haas, a former world No.2 and three times a semi-finalist in Melbourne, was blown away in the early stages but soon got into his running, showing some glimpses of the form which lifted him high up the rankings 10 years ago.

Now 33, the German claimed a 3-1 lead in the third set only for Nadal to hit back and close out a straight-sets win.

Afterwards, Nadal was quick to pay tribute to his opponent and urged him not to quit the game just yet.

“He’s a fantastic player,” the 2009 champion added. “He’s had a lot of injuries the last couple of years but it’s always great to play Tommy.

“He’s thinking about retiring but I thought he played well this afternoon.”