Nadal is cautious in return following back injuryRafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain at the Rio Open tennis tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Rafael Nadal is taking it easy at the Rio Open, nursing a back injury and hoping it gets better.
No. 1-ranked Nadal defeated fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver in his first-round match, his first in more than three weeks after losing the Australian Open final to Stanislaw Wawrinka.
Nadal was an overwhelming favorite in Australia to win his 14th Grand Slam title, but he picked up the back strain warming up and was never the same.
Nadal says he needs ''to be cautious'' and acknowledged he has been a ''bit afraid'' coming back from the injury. The Spaniard's next test is on Thursday against countryman Albert Montanes.