Rafael Nadal yesterday strolled into round four of the French Open, but after entering the second week at Roland Garros, he admitted concerns over a back problem.
The Spaniard is yet to drop a set in his first three matches and Leonardo Mayer was the latest victim on Nadal's path towards a potential ninth French Open crown.
A 6-2 7-5 6-2 success over the Argentinian underdog yesterday secured a fourth round clash against Dusan Lajovic. Robby Ginepri and Dominic Theim have also been brushed aside, in fact Nadal only dropped ten points in the first two rounds.
The contest against Lajovic will mark a fifth year anniversary of the world no.1's only ever defeat at Roland Garros, however there are now fears that history could repeat itself.
"I felt my back a little bit so that’s why I slowed down the serve," Nadal said after dismantling Mayer.
"I felt it a little bit from the beginning and in the second match I was not serving that fast, too. I had a few strappings on and in the second set I was feeling the pain.
"During my career I have had a few problems so always things can happen. Hopefully, it will not be the case here."
The 27-year-old's back has proved a sore point in the past. In the Australian Open final earlier this year, a flare-up of his long-rooted problem somewhat helped Stanislas Wawrinka to his first ever Grand Slam win.
Since that time, on-court success has been limited for Nadal despite retaining his mantle as pre-tournament favourite.
This clay season has heralded unparalleled disappointment for the man dubbed the 'King of Clay' as he bids to become the first man to win nine times at the French Open.
His only trophy came at the Madrid Open, and that was by default following the retirement of finalist Kei Nishikori who had taken the opening set.
Elsewhere, shock quarter-final defeats at Barcelona and Monte Carlo preceded a defeat in the final of the Rome Masters to rival Novak Djokovic - the last action before this major began.
Fans of the 13-time Grand Slam champion will be praying that he can battle-on through and avoid the disastrous 2009 loss by Robin Soderling.
However, with the likes of Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer still in the draw, it could be a tough ask for the Majorcan-born star.
If Nadal comes through his next test against Serbian opposition, it could set-up an encounter with compatriot, fifth seed and his Monte Carlo demon David Ferrer.
Many have tipped this to be the year that the king is conquered once more.
The form of Djokovic provides a particular concern, the world no.2's win in the Italian capital extended his winning run in the pair's head-to-head to four.The two have provided one of tennis' greatest rivalries in the 41 matches have they had against each other.
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