Rafael Nadal isn't taking anything for granted this week as the world number one seeks to snap a string of back luck this season with a good performance in Indian Wells.
"The goal is to win my match tomorrow," Nadal said Friday. "I felt I was in very good position at the start of the season. I am just trying to find again the performance of the beginning of the season.
"If I start winning matches then everything is going to be a little bit easier."
Nadal spoke to reporters Friday in his first interview since arriving in southern California for the ATP Tour Masters 1000 tournament.
Indian Wells is just Nadal's fourth tournament of the season. In his last outing earlier this month he won both his Davis Cup matches for Spain.
His first singles match in Indian Wells is Saturday against South African Rick De Vost.
"Every day I'm playing better. Every practice I am improving," said Nadal. "I have to play well tomorrow to be in the second round. So that's what I gonna try.
"It's impossible to be playing perfect all the time, but I hope to be playing well this week."
The 24-year-old Spaniard ended a five-week layoff in the first-round Davis Cup tie against Belgium. He seeks another deep run here after losing to Ivan Ljubicic in last year's semi-finals.
Nine-time grand slam champ Nadal had a promising start to 2011 but his season got derailed when he crashed out of the Australian Open on January 26 after struggling with a thigh muscle tear in a quarter-final match against compatriot David Ferrer.
His loss to Ferrer deprived him of a 'Rafa Slam' -- a fourth straight non-calendar year Grand Slam after winning the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open crowns last year.
But even before the leg injury, Nadal said he was battling a virus.
"This year I started the season a little bit of unlucky because I get sick in Doha, and I was playing really well at the time," he said.
Nadal could join US legends Jimmy Connors and Michael Chang and Swiss world number two Roger Federer as a three-time winner at Indian Wells.
Nadal teamed up with Marc Lopez to win his doubles match Friday over Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowwki of Poland 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/2). Nadal and Lopez won the doubles last year.
He was one of seven of the top 10 singles players who were playing in the opening round of doubles competition on Friday. Also in action were world No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 3 Novak Djokovic and fifth ranked Andy Murray.
Nadal likes spending time in the California desert but says he is not a huge fan of the court.
"I don't have any reason to not play well," said Nadal, who won here in 2007 and 2009. "I need to adapt a little bit to this court, because I think the ball bounces like crazy and the ball is very fast.
"But I always love this tournament."