Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Former champion Novak Djokovic was a predictable second-round winner Tuesday at the $3.5 million Monte Carlo Masters, the first clay-court Masters event of the year.
After enjoying an opening-round bye, the high-flying world No. 1 superstar handled Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-4 in 86 minutes on a sun-kissed afternoon at the famed Monte Carlo Country Club, which is just a bike ride from Djokovic's apartment here.
"I'm really pleased with my performance for my first match on clay against an experienced player on this surface," Djokovic said after tackling Ramos- Vinolas. "There was a good intensity."
The Serbian stalwart titled here two years ago and is a two-time Monte Carlo runner-up.
Djokovic captured this year's first two Masters events, back-to-back in Indian Wells and Miami. He is trying to become the first player to clinch the first three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles of the season.
Up next for the Serb will be rising Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer.
Another second-round result saw fifth-seeded former Monte Carlo runner-up David Ferrer top the Dominican Republic's Victor Estrella Burgos 6-2, 2-0, retired.
Also in the round of 32, eighth-seeded U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic snuck past German Florian Mayer 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and Haider-Maurer outlasted Aussie Bernard Tomic 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Cilic was playing in only his second match of the year after battling a shoulder injury.
Five seeds posted first-round wins on Day 3, as No. 9 Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov foiled 2010 Monte Carlo finalist Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; No. 10 Frenchman Gilles Simon doused wild Benjamin Balleret of Monaco 6-4, 6-2; No. 11 Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga topped German lucky-loser Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-4; No. 14 Frenchman Gael Monfils overcame Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; and No. 16 Spaniard Tommy Robredo held off Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
Additional opening-round wins came for Spaniard Marcel Granollers, Argentine Juan Monaco, Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and wild card Lucas Pouille, and Serb Viktor Troicki, who bested last week's Casablanca champion Martin Klizan 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-2. Chardy will meet the great Roger Federer on Wednesday.
In the first all-Swiss final in 14 years on the ATP World Tour, Stan Wawrinka upset Federer for last year's Monte Carlo title. It marked Federer's fourth runner-up finish, as he still eyes that elusive title here.
This week's No. 3 seed, Rafael Nadal, who won an Open Era-record eight consecutive titles at this event from 2005-2012 and has a staggering 50-3 record in the tournament will open his week against Pouille on Wednesday.
Several other stars will take to the courts Wednesday, including fourth seed Milos Raonic, sixth seed Tomas Berdych, the seventh-seeded reigning Monte Carlo titlist Wawrinka and Dimitrov. Wawrinka will open defense of his Monte Carlo crown against Monaco.