Rafael Nadal gave his troublesome knees a quick outing, as the Spaniard launched his bid for a record eighth successive Monte Carlo Masters title with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.
The 10-times major winner was joined in the third round of the season's first big clay court tournament by world number one Novak Djokovic, who thrashed Italian Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-4.
Australia's number one Bernard Tomic exited in the second round, going down 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 to Ukrainian 16th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Aside from Nadal, it was not all smooth sailing for the Spaniards as last year's finalist David Ferrer, the fifth seed, suffered a shock 6-3, 6-2 loss to Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci.
Nadal resumed full training last week after a right knee injury forced him to pull out of his semi-final clash with Andy Murray in Miami.
Though he struggled to produce his dazzling clay court game during a cloudy afternoon, he showed ill-effect of the injury as he recorded his 40th win at the chic Mediterranean venue, where he has been unbeaten since 2005.
"I believe that I played a really normal match, nothing special. Nothing very bad, but nothing very good," Nadal said.
With tennis great Bjorn Borg watching on, Nadal easily frustrated Nieminen with his range of brutal forehand shots.
The second seed, who is hoping to win a seventh Roland Garros trophy and thus break the record he shares with Borg when the French Open begins next month, will next play Kazakhstan qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin.
Serbia's Djokovic, who is chasing Nadal's French Open crown after winning the last three majors, had a flying start to go 4-0 up but was less impressive afterwards and needed 88 minutes to edge out Seppi.
Djokovic easily grabbed the first set but was made to work a little harder in the second as Seppi, who had lost their six previous matches, played more aggressively.
"For the first official match (on clay) since Roland Garros last year, it's satisfying," Djokovic said.
"We had a couple of long games but I served very well when I needed to."
In other results, Czech Tomas Berdych moved past Croatia's Marin Cilic 7-6 (7-3), 6-1, while eighth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro defeated Italian Potito Starace by the same score.
Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, the seventh seed, advanced after beating Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-3 and will next face Frenchman Gilles Simon, who hammered Federico Gil 6-3, 6-0.
France's Julien Benneteau recovered from a break down in each set to upset 15th seed Juergen Melzer 6-4, 6-3 to set up a third-round match with Andy Murray.
ReutersTags: tennis, sport, france First posted April 19, 2012 06:19:59