Nadal cruises past qualifier in Monte Carlo

By Julien Pretot

MONTE CARLO (Reuters) - Jeu Nadal. The familiar refrain at claycourt tournaments resounded time and again on Wednesday as Rafael Nadal demolished Dutch qualifier Thiemo De Bakker 6-1 6-0 in the Monte Carlo Masters second round.

"I expected it to be tougher," said Nadal, who will face German Michael Berrer for a place in the quarter-finals.

"I think I played well. I played a very solid match, made no mistakes, with good movements, good directions."

Nadal, wearing white and blue check shorts, showed he was fighting fit as he sprinted toward the baseline before the first ball was hit and it made an impression on De Bakker.

The Dutchman was no match for the Spaniard's raw power and devilish accuracy and left the court looking dejected.

Although Nadal has not won an ATP tournament in 11 months, the Spaniard showed he would not be easy prey in Monte Carlo.

The fluttering flags gave the Monte Carlo Country Club a leisurely feel on a bright day and the tranquillity of the gentle breeze was matched only by the glittering of the Mediterranean sea in the background as Nadal raced to a 4-0 lead.

LOUD CHEERS

The hot sun made one want to recline and go to sleep -- the kind of fuzzy feeling you get after three glasses of Champagne.

"I like the atmosphere in general. Here you feel you're at a club. It's nice to be in big tournaments with big stadiums but here you're in a club and that's what makes the tournament so different," Nadal commented.

The peaceful atmosphere was punctuated only by loud cheers when Nadal produced an exquisite counter lob or when De Bakker won his only game of the match.

The four-times French Open champion saw off three break points in the fourth game and never looked back.

Top seed Djokovic also eased into the third round with a 6-2 6-3 win over France's Florent Serra, while Briton Andy Murray, the world number four, was sent packing after being thrashed 6-2 6-1 by German Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Djokovic, though, could have been more efficient in front of a capacity center court crowd enjoying the event's first cloudless day.

The Serbian world number two will next face Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded 13th, for a place in the quarter-finals after the Swiss beat Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 6-1 6-4.

Djokovic got off to a flying start, mixing his game with cunning drop shots to open a 4-0 lead.

Serra pulled a break back in a 12-minute fifth game as he started to play more aggressively. Djokovic then saw off another break point in the seventh game, following up on his serve to clinch the opening set.

A long forehand by Serra gave Djokovic the early break in the second set but the Frenchman leveled for 2-2. Djokovic snatched the decisive break in the seventh game and wrapped up victory when his opponent sliced a backhand wide.

(Editing by Alison Wildey and Ken Ferris; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)