- Monte Carlo Masters
Federer faultless and Nadal eases through
Roger Federer justified his wildcard entry at the Monte Carlo Masters with a quickfire 6-1 6-2 victory over Radek Stepanek.
Federer, three times a finalist at the year's first clay-court Masters event, needed just 52 minutes to post a 14th career victory over Stepanek with an assured performance.
The world No.4 attacked from the outset, disarming the variety in Stepanek's game by coming to the net and taking time away from his opponent, moving well in his first clay-court outing of the season.
It was a near-flawless performance from Federer, who claimed all four break points that came his way and saved two in return. Finding 78% of first serves - 90% in the opener - more than made amends for the one double-fault he gave up in the second set.
"I'm very happy now that I'm doing well," Federer told ATP World Tour's official website. "But, of course, I also expect this from myself. So I'm just trying to keep up that rhythm.
"I feel free physically and in my mind. I'm eager to play, I'm eager to practise. I want to play good points. I'm no longer afraid that the rally will last too long. This was getting in the way of my game last year, whereas now I can really enjoy myself."
Rafael Nadal needed little over an hour to book a third round clash with Andreas Seppi as the world No.1 defeated Russian qualifier Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-4 6-1.
Gabashvili claimed an early break of serve but Nadal responded from 3-1 down to take the first set 6-4 and put the pressure on the world No.58.
However, Gabashvili could not respond and the top seed rattled through the second set to complete his 680th ATP Tour victory in one hour 12 minutes on Court Central.
The Spaniard's triumph ensured he moved above Brian Gottfried on the all-time wins list and now takes up 12th spot outright, three wins shy of Arthur Ashe in 11th.
Having won the event every year between 2005 and 2012, Nadal is now seeking his ninth Monte Carlo crown after losing out to Novak Djokovic last year, but knows he survived a minor scare in his first match back at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
"It was very important that point, 3-1, break point for him," said Nadal. "I saved it with one good shot and one good volley. After that I felt that was the time to try to push a little bit more and increase a little bit the rhythm and the intensity. I did, I think. I played a good game to have the break back. I felt that I had the match a little bit more under control.
"Always in the first match, the thing that you want at the beginning is get into a rhythm, play some long points, find the feelings. But I didn't have that chance because he started very quick with finding the winners on the first ball that he could."
Up next for Nadal is Andreas Seppi, who edged out Pablo Andujar 7-6(5) 5-7 6-4 in their first meeting, a match that lasted two hours 48 minutes.
Grigor Dimitrov was forced to come from behind to book a third-round showdown with sixth seed David Ferrer, eventually overcoming Albert Ramos 4-6 6-3 6-4.
Federer faces Lukas Rosol in the third round after the Czech managed back-to-back victories on the ATP Tour for only the second time this season with a 6-4 6-4 win over France's Michael Llodra.
World No.10 Milos Raonic needed three sets and nearly two hours to see off Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu, eventually prevailing 6-7(4) 6-2 6-1, while Fabio Fognini's fine run continued with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.