Djokovic And Nadal Into Third Round At Monte Carlo

Monaco, Apr 18: Seven-time defending champion Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic got their clay-court seasons off to a good start with comfortable wins in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.Djokovic
djokovic and nadal into third round at monte...
India TV News Desk April 18, 2012 23:17 IST
Monaco, Apr 18: Seven-time defending champion Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic got their clay-court seasons off to a good start with comfortable wins in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.

Djokovic opened with a 6-1, 6-4 win against Andreas Seppi of Italy and his archrival Nadal followed up by beating Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-4, 6-3.

"I thought I was really focused first set. I had a tough opponent, obviously, a quality opponent that plays good on clay," Djokovic said. "For the first match (on clay) since Roland Garros last year, it was satisfying."

Nadal looked a bit rusty at times after not playing a match for three weeks to rest and treat his troublesome left knee.

"I played a really normal (average) match, nothing special. Nothing very bad, but nothing very good," said Nadal, who improved his overall record here to 40-1, including 38 straight wins. "First match on clay after long time without touching a racket."

He broke Nieminen's serve four times, and had the match closed for him when the Finn double-faulted.

The Spaniard, who has not won a title since last year's French Open and has lost seven straight tournament finals to Djokovic, next plays Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin.

Nadal's last match was against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Sony Ericsson Open quarterfinals. He pulled out of his semifinal against Andy Murray to get treatment for a knee tendon problem, having skipped a chunk of the season to rest his knees following the Australian Open.

"I need practice, and today was a good practice," Nadal said. "Tomorrow (is) going to be another tough match against a player who is dangerous."

Nieminen's heavy forehand pushed Nadal well back at times, and the Spaniard was broken for the first time when serving for the match at 5-2.

Since 2005, Nadal has won at Monte Carlo and Roland Garros every year except '09.

Djokovic's match went more smoothly as he raced into a 4-0 lead after 19 minutes before Seppi started to fight back. Djokovic ultimately improved to 7-0 against the Italian.

The Australian Open champion next faces Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, who had 11 aces in his 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 win against Australian Bernard Tomic.

"You expect the unexpected with (Dolgopolov)," Djokovic said. "He's a very talented player, comes up with some shots that are not really typical for a tennis player. He comes up with some drop shots, changes the pace very much."

Although the 23-year-old Dolgopolov lost in straight sets to Djokovic in the fourth round of last year's U.S. Open, the Serb had to work hard to take a tight first set in a tiebreaker that finished 16-14.

"After that, I think I can compete with him," Dolgopolov said. "I mean, he's No. 1, I'm No. 21. Obviously he's higher in the ranking. He's playing more consistent. But I think I have my chances."

Djokovic looked on course for an even easier win after the early double break put him in total control.

But in a long fifth game lasting 11 minutes, the Serb was finally tested as Seppi showed some form with a couple of big forehands and one lovely drop shot. Djokovic even had to save two break points at 15-40.

"I think I served really well when I needed to," Djokovic said. "That's encouraging for the clay because you (can't) rely on your serves as much as maybe other surfaces, so it's good to have a couple of free points there."

Elsewhere, there was an upset as Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci thrashed fifth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 6-2.

"I made lots of mistakes," Ferrer said. "He plays very aggressive, very consistent. He was better."

Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, No. 7 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, No. 8 Nicolas Almagro of Spain, and No. 12 Kei Nishikori of Japan also won in straight sets.

Berdych beat big-serving Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-6 (3), 6-1; Tipsarevic won 6-2, 6-3 against Spain's Albert Montanes; Almagro downed Italy's Potito Starace 7-6 (3), 6-1, and Nishikori beat Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-2.

Kukushkin won 7-6 (8), 2-6, 6-2 against Italian veteran Filippo Volandri, while Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka beat Spain's Pablo Andujar 7-5, 6-3.

Also, Gilles Simon of France beat Frederico Gil of Portugal 6-3, 6-0 and next plays Tipsarevic. Frenchman Julien Benneteau will play Andy Murray after beating Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-4, 6-3.
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