By Gregory Blachier

MONTE CARLO (Reuters) - World number one Novak Djokovic and defending champion Rafael Nadal reached the Monte Carlo Masters third round after straightforward victories on Wednesday in the season's first big claycourt tournament.

Nadal beat Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-3 while Djokovic defeated Italian Andreas Seppi 6-1 6-4.

Spaniard Nadal, who is chasing a record eighth consecutive victory in Monte Carlo, resumed full training last week after a right knee injury forced him to pull out of his semi-final clash with Andy Murray in Miami.

He showed no signs of the problem as he recorded his 40th win in a row at the chic venue by the glittering Mediterranean, where he has been unbeaten since 2005.

Nadal wowed the crowd as he hit some dramatic forehand passes when Nieminen, 48th in the world, came to the net.

The second seed will next play Kazakhstan qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin, who defeated Italian Filippo Volandri 7-6 2-6 6-2.

Serbia's Djokovic, who is chasing Nadal's French Open crown after winning the last three grand slam events, had a flying start to go 4-0 up but was less impressive afterwards and needed 88 minutes to edge out Seppi - ranked 44th in the world.

Djokovic easily grabbed the first set but was made to work a little harder in the second as Seppi, who had lost their six previous ties, played more aggressively.

The top seed will take on 16th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, who beat Australian teenager Bernard Tomic 6-2 5-7 6-1, in the third round.

(Editing by Mark Meadows)