Federer in Fine Form, Raonic Impresses; Nadal Begins Bid For Seventh Straight Monte Carlo Title
Roger Federer showed his game is already in full flight on the clay with a devasting 6-2, 6-1 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber in second round play at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.
Federer, who has never won the Monte Carlo title, breezed past the German in just 50 minutes.
“I think [it was] clearly a good start for me into the clay-court season,” said Federer who is 6-0 lifetime against Kohlschreiber. “I varied it well that he couldn’t play his game. I was consistent, consistently dangerous, too. I felt well in the offence, and in the defence I was fine. There’s no real secrets out there. That’s why I’m particularly pleased he wasn’t able to exploit any of my, let’s say, weaknesses, and that I was able to do all that really.”
With Novak Djokovic resting a knee, Federer’s main rival this week will be clay king Rafael Nadal who makes his debut on his favorite surface Wednesday against Jarkko Nieminen.
“[Rafa is] clearly the overwhelming favourite for this tournament, even though I haven’t seen him play yet,” Federer said. “He obviously has a big affection for this place here. To win the tournament six times in a row, I know how hard it is. I don’t think I’ve done it anywhere. So this is something very special for him, going for number seven. He’ll try his very best and he’ll be hard to beat.”
Federer will play the winner of the Pere Riba-Marin Cilic match on Thursday.
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the upset on Tuesday. Tsonga was ousted by Croat Ivan Ljubicic 7-6(2), 6-4.
Young phenom Milos Raonic continues to impress. The Canadian won just his fourth career clay match beating Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 7-5. The 20-year-old showed some signs of nerves when he was unable to close out the Latvian serving 5-4, 40-0 in the second set.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done that before,” Raonic said of the 6-4 game. “Knowing here it’s tough to get the free points with the serve… I think I just played a sloppy first one, then after that just nerves got a bit in the way. But I was happy with how I sort of put it all together right after. I was able to reel off a few points in a row. I just tried as best as I could to keep it under control. I’m happy with the outcome.”
Raonic’s win should move him into the Top 30 and all but assure him of a French Open seeding. Up next could be am Australian Open rematch with David Ferrer who first must beat countryman Felicano Lopez.
Tomas Berdych joined Federer, Ljubicic and Raonic in the third round.
Also, Gilles Simon and Felicano Lopez were among the first round winners.
On Wednesday, in addition to the return of Nadal who has won his last 32 matches in Monte Carlo, Andy Murray will try to break out of a two-month losing spell against Radek Stepanek. Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils are also in action.
ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, 13 APRIL, 2011
COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs  R Gasquet (FRA)
Not Before 11:30AM
D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) vs  G Monfils (FRA)
Not Before 1:30 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs J Nieminen (FIN)
 [WC] A Murray (GBR) vs [WC] R Stepanek (CZE)
L Dlouhy (CZE) / J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs G Monfils (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA)
COURT DES PRINCES start 10:30 am
F Lopez (ESP) vs  D Ferrer (ESP)
Not Before 11:30 AM
A Montanes (ESP) vs  G Simon (FRA)
 F Verdasco (ESP) vs T Robredo (ESP)
 J Melzer (AUT) vs R Haase (NED)
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