World No. 13 Marin Cilic was an easy opening-round winner at the Italian Masters tennis event, a clay-court French Open tune-up.
The 11th-seeded Croatian slugger handled Kazakhstani qualifier Andrey Golubev 6-4, 6-2 at beautiful Foro Italico.
Talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis, a qualifier this week, advanced by beating veteran Finnish left-hander Jarkko Nieminen, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), while 6-foot-8 rising Pole Jerzy Janowicz handled Colombian Santiago Giraldo 7-5, 6-2.
An all-Italian affair Monday saw Fabio Fognini douse Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-1. Fognini should have his hands full with clay-court king Rafael Nadal in his next outing.
Also on Day 2, Spanish qualifier Albert Montanes overcame quality Slovak Martin Klizan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3; Italian Potito Starace came back to beat Czech Radek Stepanek 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov topped Belgian Xavier Malisse 6-2, 3-1, retired; France's Benoit Paire outlasted Argentine Juan Monaco 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 6-4; and Spaniard Albert Ramos dismissed Czech qualifier Jan Hajek 7-5, 6-0. Montanes is rewarded with a second-round match against world No. 1 superstar Novak Djokovic, while the wild card Starace will encounter the great Roger Federer in his next match.
The six-time Rome champion Nadal beat the 2011 titlist and two-time winner Djokovic in last year's marquee finale.
The amazing Nadal was last week's Masters champion in Madrid.
The 2013 Rome winner will take home $660,000.