Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer hurdle second-round rivals in Monte Carlo

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Monte Carlo, Monaco (4E Sports) – Top seed Rafael Nadal opened his bid for a ninth title by defeating Teymuraz Gabashvili, 6-4, 6-1, Wednesday in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

The Spaniard was under pressure at the start as the Russian grabbed a 3-1 and 30/40 on Nadal’s serve.

However, Nadal found his rhythm and reeled off nine of the next 10 games to take the first set and open up a 4-0 lead in the second en route to his 49th victory at the Monte-Carlo Country Club in 73 minutes.

“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.”

The 27-year-old Nadal is bidding to reclaim the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy that he won eight successive years between 2005-12. He was dethroned in the final last year by Novak Djokovic.

Nadal advanced against Italian Andreas Seppi, who battled past Pablo Andujar, 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4 in two hours and 48 minutes.

Roger Federer defeated veteran Radek Stepanek, 6-1, 6-2, to advance against Lukas Rosol, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over Michael Llodra.

In other matches, third seed Stan Wawrinka prevailed over Marin Cilic, 6-0, 6-2; Milos Raonic downed Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1; while Fabio Fognini topped Roberto Bautista Agut, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4;

Other winners were Tommy Robredo, Grigor Dimitrov, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Pablo Carreno Busta, who will take on Djokovic in the second round.

On the women’s side, top seed Dominika Cibulkova defeated Pemra Ozgen, 6-1, 6-3, in the opening round of the Malaysian Open.

Cibulkova downed Ozgen in just 61 minutes to advance against 2012 champion Su-Wei Hsieh.

Meanwhile, fourth seed Patricia Mayr-Achleitner reached the quarterfinal after beating Danka Kovinic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

In other matches, sixth seed Zarina Diyas ousted Giulia Gatto-Monticone, 6-1, 6-4 while Magda Linette dropped Lyudmyla Kichenok, 6-1, 6-2.

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