Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (Sports Network) - World No. 1 star Novak Djokovic, second seed Andy Murray and eight-time reigning champion Rafael Nadal were a trio of second-round winners Wednesday at the $3.465 Monte Carlo Masters, the third ATP Masters 1000 event of the year.
Djokovic, who has been nursing an ankle injury suffered during some Davis Cup action a couple weeks ago, started slow Wednesday before rebounding for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny, while the third- seeded former No. 1 Nadal won his 43rd straight match on the red clay at the famed Monte Carlo Country club with a 6-1, 6-2 pasting of helpless Aussie Marinko Matosevic.
"Today was a big test. My ankle survived, I'm in the next round. That's what matters," Djokovic said. "I know that my game is still not there, obviously, and I have a lot of ups and downs through the match. Physically also, I think I've put double the effort than I do usually because, you know, I still don't feel comfortable."
This prestigious tennis event, which dates all the way back to 1897, has been captured the last eight years by the great Nadal, who topped Djokovic in last year's marquee finale. Last year's final also marked a rematch of the 2009 title match, which was also won by the clay-court king Nadal.
Nadal, who is now 45-1 lifetime at this event, owns a record 22 Masters titles overall. The seven-time French Open champion's third-round opponent will be 16th-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber, while the two-time Monte Carlo runner-up Djokovic will take on Argentine Juan Monaco.
The U.S. Open champion Murray cruised past French qualifier Edouard Roger- Vasselin 6-1, 6-4 and will meet Swiss slugger Stan Wawrinka on Thursday, while fourth-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych opened his stay here with a 7-5, 6-4 decision against Spaniard Marcel Granollers on Day 4.
Ninth-seeded Croat Marin Cilic knocked out 6-foot-8 South African Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-3, while veteran Austrian left-hander Jurgen Melzer upset 10th-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-2. Almagro was a clay-court runner-up in Houston last week, while Anderson was a runner-up on the dirt in Casablanca.
In other second-round action involving seeds, Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen upended No. 12 Milos Raonic of Canada 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), a No. 13 Wawrinka drilled Spanish qualifier Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-1 and a No. 14 Monaco held off talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-0, 3-6, 6-3. Nieminen is rewarded with a third-round match against fifth-seeded former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.
Additional second-round wins came for Italian Fabio Fognini and German Florian Mayer. Fognini should have his hands full with Berdych on Thursday.