Finalist Roger Federer and holder Stan Wawrinka rolled to quick-fire opening wins at the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday as clay king Rafael Nadal also joined the Swiss pair with a solid start.
Second seed Federer, a three-time runner-up at the seaside Country Club, took just 54 minutes to dominate Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-1 as the Frenchman sent in a pair of double-faults in the penultimate game while Federer advanced with his third ace on match point a game later.
“Jeremy didn’t serve very well, and I felt good on the return,” said the Swiss winner. “So I was in a lot of the service games when he was serving.
“I thought I served well, had a high first serve percentage and was able to control the baseline. On clay, things move ahead very quickly, I must say.
“I’ve had 10 days of clay training and I feel prepared.”
For third seed Nadal, his 6-2, 6-1 second-round success against French wild card Lucas Pouille came as a huge relief after a poor season and just one small South American trophy to hand since winning a ninth Roland Garros title last May.
“I’m glad to be back here and playing on clay,” said the troubled Spaniard who improved his record here to 51 wins and just three losses as he moved into the third round.
“It was a tough match, but I played little bit better than what I was doing before.
“I played with the right mentality, the right concentration, I didn’t have (a lot of) mistakes in a row. That’s something that happened the last couple months with me.
“Historically I am a (regular) player, I can have mistakes, but not three in a row.
“I am working on that to fix that. Today I fixed it. Today I played solid.”
Nadal never faced a break point while breaking his wild card opponent three times.
The 28-year-old spent 68 minutes in proving that he will not roll over on his preferred surface even after a month of poor hardcourt results and a general lack of confidence after his ranking fell to fifth.
Nadal has not won in Monte Carlo since 2012, going out in the 2013 final to Novak Djokovic and losing in the quarters a year ago to countryman David Ferrer.
Switzerland’s Wawrinka kicked off his week with a 6-1 6-4 defeat of Argentine Juan Monaco in 71 minutes to progress.
He was also glad to get some red dirt in his socks after an indifferent last few months.
“I’m happy to change, to come on clay again. The conditions are great here, so I’m happy with the first match.
“Since I wasn’t playing well in practice, I consider this match as a good one. There were ups and downs, but that’s normal for a first match.
“I’m satisfied with my level physically and mentally. I was able to be aggressive.
“It’s been really difficult over the last two months had two last months (Marseille quarter-final and second and third-round defeats in the US).”
The seventh seed, who lifted his first elite Masters1000 title in Monaco a year ago as he beat compatriot Roger Federer for the title, spent 71 minutes in getting past Monaco.
Wawrinka will next face ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-4.
The 2014 Australian Open winner comes onto the spring clay with a 17-4 match record and titles in Chennai and Rotterdam.
The 30-year-old successfully defended a title for the first time in January, winning Chennai for the second year in a row.
Canadian Milos Raonic, seeded fourth beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), while Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 7-6 (7/2).
Gilles Simon, the number 10, defeated fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-5.
Results on the fourth day of the Monte Carlo Masterson Wednesday (x denotes seeded player)
Stan Wawrinka (SUI x7) bt Juan Monaco (ARG) 6-1, 6-4
Tommy Robredo (ESP x16) bt Marcel Granollers (ESP) 6-1, 6-1
Rafael Nadal (ESP x3) bt Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-2, 6-1
Tomas Berdych (CZE x6) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 6-4, 7-6 (7/2)
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x12) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x9) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3, 6-4
Gilles Simon (FRA x10) bt Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-4, 7-5
Roger Federer (SUI x2) bt Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-2, 6-1
– Agence France-Presse